Is 16 to young to drive?

Last week we had a couple of very tragic accidents claiming the lives of many of our young people. Here is the news story of one of them. Several things came out after this article. There was no alcohol involved and the only survivor was the young girl driving one of the cars and she was the only one wearing a seatbelt. Now everyone and their brother is talking the pro’s and con’s of 16 being to young to drive.

Okay, deep breaths……. I was pretty much taught to drive when I was 10 or so. I didn’t drive anywhere alone then but I was taught. I spent the summers in Canada at my grandparents farm and all kids were taught to drive. We would take cold water to our uncles working in the fields as well as their lunches and snacks during the day. We would just drive to what field they were working in.

When I was about 12, one of the neighbors had a son. I don’t know what was wrong with him but he never did talk or communicate in any way. He was like a baby his whole life. He was very soothed riding in the car so the dad made a track like thing around a bunch of out buildings and sheds and a service road (kind of) next to the driveway in a circular type pattern and we would drive this kid around that track over and over and we thought we were queens. It was fun to us and that’s how I learned to drive.

Which leads me to this. If we raise the age of driving, what age should we pick? 17? 18? Don’t kids leave home at 18? They can vote at 18 or join the armed forces or even get married and start a family. Now on top of learning all these new things in life, you expect them to learn to drive when mom and dad are NOWHERE around to “teach” them the how’s of driving?


I’m thinking the age should be lowered. OR, maybe start drivers ed sooner but don’t let them get their license until 16. I’ve heard all the “brain doesn’t develop” *blah, blah, blah* arguments and they don’t make any sense to me. We taught our boys to drive slowly, over time. You don’t just stick a kid in a car and say “see ya later.” I believe you have to show them. Explain things to them so they know. How can anyone possibly think that a year before a kid leaves home that they learn to drive? I feel good driving skills have nothing to do with age. To me, in my opinion, it’s something that you learn and the more you do it, the more you’re taught, the better driver you will be. I believe EXPERIENCE is the key to good driving skills and not age. Because everyone makes mistakes in the beginning so isn’t it best to make those mistakes with mom and dad around?

Not all 16 year olds should be driving. Some people should never drive. It’s up to you to know your child. It’s up to the parent to determine if they think their child should be able to drive. I used it for a year over Jason’s head and it worked like a charm for his grades. “If you want to drive, you better bring up your grades.” He was a horrible driver but we were there to teach him. I couldn’t have imagined HIM leaving home and learning to drive at the same time without us around.

My sister-in-law Nancy has teens now and she said there’s a log you have to fill out and you need to drive X amount of hours before you can take your driving test and most of her son’s friends parents just signed them and those kids didn’t have all the required behind the wheel hours but the parents lied for them. *shaking my head* Those are the problems if you ask me. So many people don’t take the time to teach their kids anything. They just pass the buck and then wonder why bad things happen.

I believe firmly that you have to, it’s your duty as a parent to teach your kids to do things as soon as possible so when they are learning, you are there to give them pointers. Even if they act like they’re not listening, they really are. I have “people” right now in my life who’s lives are on hold because they didn’t teach their child “how to live” and now this child should be out of the nest but doesn’t have a clue how life works and is emotionally a 15-year-old.

I’m not by any means saying my kids had no problems. But this young 16-year-old that was driving this vehicle, she was the only one that survived and she had only been driving for 3 weeks yet she had 3 other peers in the car. That right there has me thinking, HUH?? Even when Jason and Toby got their license, they didn’t take a car alone for a long time. My boys also knew there was no bullshitting me and if I felt I had to, I wouldn’t have had a problem following them and they knew it. I had to do that with Jason more times than I like to admit but damn guys, you have to know your kids and sorry to say, they will lie to you.

How old do you feel you should be to be allowed to drive?

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35 Responses to Is 16 to young to drive?

  1. Laura says:

    The very first thing that popped into my head when I read the line, “I’m thinking the age should be lowered” was…

    How on EARTH are those kids going to reach the pedals from the carseat?

    True thing. The carseat restrictions are getting tougher and tougher. We’re getting to the point where kids are going to still be in carseats when we’re thinking about allowing them to drive.

    Ok, maybe I exaggerate. But only a little.

    I honestly agree with you, Joy. I can remember being really little when my dad put me on his lap and let me “steer” the car down the street. I was maybe 5 years old! I do that now, with Josh. Yeah, we’re just going down the driveway, or from the front of the house back to the barn, but he’s still getting that driver’s-eye-view of the world. And my neighbors down the street have a golf cart. If we’re still living here when Josh is tall enough to reach those pedals, you can BET that he’s going to be driving it. Same with our riding lawn mower.

    The more time he has behind the wheel, before he actually starts “driving” the better.

    Unfortunately, I can also see how it would backfire. Certain personalities would be cocky about it. “I’ve been driving since I was twelve… this expressway is no big deal. Call me when I’m on the road.”

    That’s where the ‘knowing your kids’ comes in, I guess.

    • Joy says:

      LOL!! That’s funny about the “car seats.” How did they get the law to side with them? We all know past a certain age is just ridiculous.

      • Laura says:

        I know that Illinois law used to say that a child had to be in a carseat through age 8, regardless of height/weight. There were a lot of parents outraged at that, since they had larger kids – either they were really tall, or they were “rounder”, so sitting in car/booster seats were uncomfortable for them, to say the least.

        Now, most of the laws have a weight/height requirement, which is more logical. But they’re still there, and they’re getting more and more strict. I wouldn’t be surprised if soon, children were banned altogether from the front seat.

        • SKL says:

          I seem to be having deja vu because a couple months ago, I went on a rant about this topic. I thought my state had a weight requirement, but then I found out it was actually a height requirement. I have a petite kid so that still may be somewhat of a challenge. We shall see. I don’t think a high % of parents is following the law once their kids reach a certain age. I still think it’s a racket but if they have designed the back seatbelts to be truly unsafe for short people, then I feel I don’t have much choice but to boost my kids up until it’s safe to do otherwise.

  2. Laura says:

    OH!! And there will be none of this, “you can have your own car when you get your license” crap. You earn the right to borrow my car, and then, you may only drive it when I’m not needing it.

  3. LVISS says:


  4. SKL says:

    Like you said, it depends on the child. I let my kid sister drive around a parking lot at age 6. She did it at least as well as her 10-year-old brother – despite the size difference. She was a person who you could trust to be aware and weigh multiple factors in making a quick decision. That doesn’t mean she never had a driving mishap once she got her license. But, I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who hasn’t had a driving mishap.

    When I was 16 and got my temporary permit, I was a senior in HS. My brother took me for my first drive in a cemetary – how fitting! At least I couldn’t kill anyone. It went fine except that the car had really sensitive power brakes. Sorry, brother.

    I drove on my permit for a long time, until I was well past 17. I just didn’t get around to taking the driver’s test – plus I flunked it twice. (I was actually a good driver, but I might have seemed a little too cocky since I had been driving to college daily for months. Got dinged for stupid / nonexistent stuff.) But anyway, what I’m getting at is, here’s an idea for parents. Let your kid get his learner’s permit at 16, but don’t let him take the drivers’ test until you really feel he’s ready to safely drive with all the usual distractions (such as having peers in the car). You have up to 2 years to work with him before he can go off on his own and do something stupid. Hopefully by holding out on the license, you’ll send the message that safe driving isn’t an in-born trait and is important enough to work on.

    I don’t think it’s necessary for little kids to get behind the wheel and turn the key – though it’s fun – but I do think it’s never too early to start explaining the thought processes behind driving, the logic of the traffic rules (which are relevant to pedestrians too), and how cars function. Among these chats, parents need to reinforce respect for the great power of the car – to potentially cause a lot of harm if not handled properly.

    I don’t think there’d be a net benefit to getting younger teens (under 15 or 16) driving on the road. I do like the idea of letting them learn to drive in off-road, relatively safe places. Again, it’s up to the parents to decide if and when to try this with their kids. I think some localities let kids under 16 get a learner’s permit, but not a license. I’m sure there are many kids that age who can be capable drivers (particularly with a licensed adult at their side), but there are also many who wouldn’t. So honestly, I wouldn’t be in favor of licensing kids younger than 15.

    • Joy says:

      No, I don’t want the driving age younger. Let’s not take this there but maybe have drivers ed younger and teach kids more about the basics younger so when they take drivers ed at 15, it’s not all about the car and the laws of driving. When I was in drivers ed, back in the day of horse and buggy…BUT, so much of it involved everything BUT driving. Maybe introduce cars in general at a younger age.

  5. Ellen says:

    To me, 16 years is way too young. But, I am saying that from a European perspective. Their you have to 18 years. But, how you explained it, Joy, I can agree with your arguments. My stepson is 15 years, he need some kind of paper to learn driving when he is 15 and a half. He is not very enthusiastic now, because he will need to come up with the insurance money when he wants to drive. He thought daddy or mummy would pay for that 🙂 So he needs to find a job also, that is too much, then he does not have time to play his video games!! 🙂
    They are pretty strict now with the rules. That, I think, is a good thing.

  6. Laura says:

    I think Ellen makes a good point, as well, in her example with her nephew. As we’ve said, it really depends upon how involved the parents are with the child…

    And if that child has to pay for his own insurance, gas, etc., he’s going to be more responsible.

    So many times I see kids who are handed their own car the day they turn 16 – brand new, shiny car, all insurance paid, no car payments, sometimes the gas and maintenance is even included! This boggles the mind.

    When I got my license, my parents held the insurance over my head – as long as I was getting good grades AND had no vehicle citations (speeding, parking, etc.), they would pay for insurance. Step out of line even once, and the burden would be mine. We also had a house rule. If you were in the car and the gas gauge dropped below half, you filled the tank.

    All parts of the whole… learning to be responsible with your driving.

  7. Sue says:

    I had to think about this overnight. I don’t think the age should be lower or higher because of the points you made, Joy.

    It really depends on the kid and their level of responsibility. I did not have to pay for my insurance either, but I always got good grades, stayed out of trouble and didn’t have any moving violations. My parents did buy me and my sister our first car, but it was a POS beater that fell apart on more than one occasion! Ahhh, the green hornet…I’m going to have to find a picture of it! It was ugly as sin and I hated it, but my dad said “If you don’t like it then I guess you’re not going anywhere and I have a new work car.” Hmm, good point Dad! I never expected them to pay for anything, but was always grateful that they did.

  8. Nikki says:

    I was never taught how to drive. I never got to sit in my moms lap and pretend to drive. I drove a little bit when I was 16 in the Montana back roads, kind of scary for my best friend! LOL

    I didn’t start driving until I was 25, legally. I never really had to though so I never did. I can say I have never gotten into an accident or even a moving violation in the last 5 years.

    I never took drivers ed in school, though I should have, I never had to. I think the earlier they are educated the better. Familiarity with a vehicle from a young age is a good thing. Never ever alone, I mean that should be just common sense! But I see with a lot of parents these days, they lack common sense as much as some kids do! 16 is not too young in my opinion to start driving, however strict rules and obvious precautions! Again, never without a parent. You can’t not teach your kids these things, and then send them off to the real world and expect them to know what to do. That goes from everything from driving to working, to being on their own someday!

    Bailey will not get his own car until he is working and can pay his own insurance. He will help pay for the car. I can’t say we will make him pay for all of it. I guess that really depends on what kind of teenager he is. I fully believe in helping kids with stuff like that IF they are responsible and paying their way. I’d like to think we are/will be cautious parents without being overbearing.

  9. lucy says:

    I’m very torn about this. I think its one thing to allow your young kid to try to drive in the middle of nowhere, where noone can get hurt. However, if you do not live in a rural part of the country there is no place that is truly “safe” for young individuals to drive. I think learning to drive around 16 WITH PARENTS in the care is ok (after taking some drivers ed courses with an instructor). But I don’t see the need to allow younger individuals to drive. There is no need for a 15 year old to drive in most places (i could see how this is different in really rural places).

    However, changing the driving age to 18 (as it currently is in NJ) also seems silly. Many states (NJ included) do not have good public transportation and it is very difficult for teenagers to get around. It’s very restricting for parents if they have to keep driving their children around until they are 18 (pick up from afterschool activities, as well as other normal teenage get togethers).

    • Joy says:

      I agree Lucy. It really does depend a lot on where you live and what your lifestyle is. I lived in a suburb of Minneapolis growing up so had I not spent summers on “the farm,” I’m sure things would have been different. BUT… was also very different when I was growing up and learning to drive. The suburbs were quieter and people taught their kids to do this right “out front” on the street you lived on and neighbors were all out and helping. It was a different time.

    • Laura says:

      Not far from most cities are counties out in the country, where you can find plenty of deserted dirt roads. Why not make a day of it, or a couple days of it, and take your kids out there? That’s what us country folk do… and we’re willing to share our dirt roads.

      Just stay out of the pastures, the bulls get cranky when you flatten their grass, and the cows tend to wander if you knock down the fences.

  10. Joy says:

    I have to say here that neither of my boys were allowed to get their drivers license until they had money to pay for the insurance. I felt teaching them about the responsibility of insurance was important. I did let them use my car if they wanted to most of the time but they worked in order to drive.

    Jason started working at McDonald’s the day he turned 15 and Toby cut three neighbors lawns and babysat his cousin every Sunday.

    I just felt driving was a big responsibility and I wanted them to know that. It’s not playing. That’s why I also taught them as they grew.

  11. I don’t think it’s a matter of age either, really… The thing that bugs me about the US driving laws is that the parents teach their kids. As you say, parents can just sign the time log and voila, the kids are driving soon enough.

    Now, I’m not saying driving in Israel is better, because it’s NOT. The driving here is horribly aggressive. BUT, the one thing that I think IS good is that you have to take driving lessons from licensed driving teachers. You need to take a minimum of 36 hours of driving lessons in order to even sign up for the driving test. If you fail, you need to wait a certain amount of time before you’re allowed to take it again, during which you have more lessons with your teacher.
    Then, once you pass the test, you have six months in which you can only drive the car with a licensed driver over 25 in the car. THEN, for the next year and a half after that, you’re considered a “new driver,” and you have to put a sign up in your car attesting to that, and you can only drive up to two people in the car. Only after that time period are you completely without restraint.

    The license age here is 17, which is stupid, and I think it should be lowered. But at least the system is good.

    • Joy says:

      I can remember too Ilana when my boys were learning, they both took their behind the wheel at Sears and it wans’t us teaching them and you couldn’t go for your license until a certified drivers ed guy took you around. That’s all changed now. They took all the “book learning” at school but you had to go elsewhere for you behind the wheel.

      Anyone know how that works now?

    • SKL says:

      Ilana, kids here do have to take drivers’ education courses to get a license before age 18. But I feel the kids don’t treat it as important because they tend to blow off a lot of things that are taught at school. They do the minimum to get by and then immediately put it behind them. I feel that if your mom or dad sits and tells you “this is very important,” it will mean a lot more. I think that experience backs me up on that.

      I like the idea of having an extended probationary period. They have been toying with that here in various ways. I don’t know exactly what the law is in my state now, because it keeps changing.

      The thing about driving is, it’s necessary if you don’t have a public transportation system. When I was 16, I went to college and had a 12-mile commute. Luckily my older brother went in the same car to the same college, so it was not a problem for me to have an adult with me. But otherwise, I would have needed my license at 16. Lots of other teens need to drive in order to work or attend school, and it can also be a big help to the family. I see little downside to letting 16-year-olds drive. If they make mistakes, those are mistakes they probably would have made at 18 if the driving age was higher.

  12. Joy says:

    I’d also like to mention that I’m not only talking about driving a car. Like Laura mentioned above, all three of my grandchildren can drive the golf cart. Bailey and Trinity are both going to be 10 this summer and I’ve let them both drive it all by themselves. I mean I’m in the golf cart but they do the speed pedal and steering wheel alone. Christopher will be 6 in July and he sits between my legs but he steers alone.

    Bailey also had a dirt bike for years when he was younger and we have a little Kitty Cat (miniature snowmobile) that all three of them can drive. Steering is very important and yes, they are going to hit stuff occasionally. But that’s what learning is and we’re all standing right in the yard with them and they’re dressed in suits of armor!! It’s not like they’re going all over the place but they are learning to drive.

    Toby came over last night and saw this post on Paul’s computer and he said he was mowing lawns at 10 and I said “that’s how old Trinity will be” and he about had a fit and said he’d never let her mow the lawn. I won’t tell you exactly what he said because I shouldn’t but, again, a lot of it is knowing your kids and teaching them when you’re able to.

    • Sue says:

      I thought the same thing about Trinity mowing the lawn though. I saw that Bailey got to mow the lawn the other day and I was proud for him b/c that’s a great thing to say you did but then I thought, there’s no way Trin would mow the lawn. And then I thought, why not, they’re the same age, what’s the difference? The difference is our lawn is huge, the lawn mower is huge and there are times I’M not comfortable on the mower so why would I stick her on there? A push mower is one thing, but a 4 foot wide mower deck under you and zero turn is another. We also live on a hill and the last thing I want to see is the lawn mower rolling down the hill with my child strapped to it.

      • Joy says:

        I don’t think it’s the size of your yard but the dangerous lawn mower these guys had to have. We mowed more in Mtka than we do here but we just had a plain old riding lawn mower and not that stupid zero clearance thing or whatever you want to call it. Paul shouldn’t even be driving it for crying out loud!

        • Nikki says:

          When Bailey mowed it was a small area in the front yard and it’s a push mower. The one that Paul has seems way too complicated for most! Especially a kid! I wouldn’t put Bailey on that unless he had acres upon acres of flat land!

  13. SKL says:

    I have to chuckle about the dad/daughter thing. I understand the lawn mower sounds pretty scary. BUT, if Trinity was a boy, would Toby be at least thinking about how to get him ready to mow the lawn by his teens?

    My brother and my kids were hanging out the other day and he was tinkering with a toy that had been separated from its motor. He started making tongue-in-cheek comments about how girls don’t need to know how to make things work, they just need to know they work. My 3-year-old proceeded to go find the motor and assemble the toy and show her uncle exactly how it works. Ha ha! I think she actually understood the irony. I love my kids (when they aren’t whining). I guess I should note that I had to deal with this brother’s MCP comments from the time I was little. I remember when I was a teen and I humbled him at last with a whole list of proofs that females are smarter than males. Ah, memories!

    • Nikki says:

      I didn’t mow the grass until I had my own home! My brother who is 4 years older than me always did that. In most cases it is a male/female difference. He was out making money by the time he was 10! Bailey isn’t even close to that yet! He has to learn to push the mower handle down to lift it up, and then turn it around to go the other way. He did very wide turns!! LOL

      • SKL says:

        I don’t think I ever used the power mower, but I did cut the grass with the old-fashioned, non-powered push mower when I was a kid. Definitely before I was 10. But yes, that’s a lot different.

        I have a dad and two older brothers. It’s not so much that I didn’t want to do men’s work. It’s that the males didn’t want to do “women’s work” (like my chores, e.g., the kitchen and laundry), preferring to get away from the women’s gossip all together and breathe some air. But, that didn’t seem to apply when it came to snow shoveling, of which I did more than my share.

    • Laura says:

      Heh. I’m totally gonna be sexist here.

      I’ve got a big ol’ pasture that needs mowing. As soon as Josh is big enough to reach the pedal, and heavy enough to keep the motor engaged (our seat has a shutoff, if you stand up, it kills the motor. So if you’re drunk-mowing and you fall off, you can’t run yourself over)…. that boy is SO mowing the lawn. It’s MAN’S work!!!

      • Nikki says:

        LOL…that’s hilarious! I am the one that mows the lawn here generally. I love doing it, the satisfaction of the way it looks when I’m done is awesome. And I DID IT!

        • Sue says:

          I love mowing the lawn too! I didn’t mow the lawn til I had my own home either b/c my oldest sister got to do it when she turned like 14 and then my brother did it when he got to be that age so I never had to. Keeping the seat down is the other thing…Trinity won’t weight enough for a long time!

          • Laura says:

            I would probably enjoy it a lot more if I didn’t have to kick-swear-stomp-swear-poundwithahammer-swear-kick-swear-cuss-start the bleeping lawn mower.

            I suspect I need a new one.

  14. Lynn says:

    pertaining to your third paragraph: i think it’s cool to read about how parents make adaptations for their children with disabilities…they can be so creative!

    pertaining to, 16 too young to drive?: well today i’d say yes but when i was 16 it seemed like a perfectly good idea!

  15. starlaschat says:

    I was just thinking about this the other day, well not exactly this but how dangerous driving is. Since Ive been in Montana, which is about 14 years I have lost 5 friends to car accidents none of them under the age of 30. It’s so sad. My parents did not teach me to drive. I went to a driving school, got a job and a car pretty much all at once. I needed the car for the job and I needed the job to pay the rent. I was young, so I guess I would say to teach them well and yes it would be really good for the parents to take time to teach their children to drive. I had to laugh when you talked about following children. I wouldn’t expect any less from you Joy. ;+) I think you did a great job with your kids. I’m just saying. Anyway tough topic sad when kids die so young. I can’t believe Ive known that many people to die from car accidents. It’s horrid.

    • Joy says:

      LOL Starla. I’m not proud but yes, I did follow Jason a few times and “hunt” him down when his boss called and wanted to know why he wasn’t at work when he told me that’s where he was going! Do NOT lie to me!! LMAO!!!

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