Cars parked in the early morning (Gretchen Callahan)
Cars parked in the early morning

Gretchen Callahan

Taking the wheel

December 21, 2018

Imagine getting ready to drive to school or hang out with your friends, but your mother refuses to let you go, saying that it’s too dangerous for you to drive. As she tries to explain why, you realize there are many more benefits than drawbacks to you driving. Despite the dangers of taking the wheel, it is a necessary step towards adulthood. There are so many advantages to being able to drive as a teen. So many more doors open up to you. You will no longer need to drag your mom or dad around as a chauffeur.


Admittedly, when teens drive they are at a higher risk than other drivers because they don’t have experience and are more likely to be distracted by their phone, friends, and music. These concerns are warranted; according to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), in 2016, 2,433 teens (aged 16-19) died in motor vehicle-related crashes.


However, the valuable experience and independence that teens gain while driving can prepare them for college as well as other responsibilities. Social scientist Tara Kelley-Baker says, “[Driving] provides an important opportunity for growth in maturity that will be required when the individual leaves home 2 to 3 years later.” Learning to drive before going to college and entering the workforce gives teens more independence and maturity that will help them later in life.


Gretchen Callahan
Teen Deaths from 1968 until present


Even though there will always be dangers to having teens drive, significant restrictions and rules are in place for young drivers. These rules apply to both a Learner’s Permit and a Junior Operating License (JOL).  However, the restrictions that are placed on the driver with a JOL are far more pertinent. While teen have their Learner’s Permit they must drive with a parent or someone over the age of 21.


The restrictions aimed at keeping teen drivers safe range from the normal laws—do not speed, drive while under the influence, or drag race—to more specific restrictions about the times during the night a young driver isn’t permitted to drive. On top of that, during the first six months after obtaining their JOL teens may not drive anyone under the age of 18 who is not a family member.


There are undeniable risks associated with teenage driving, but driving is a rite of passage leading to adulthood. Although parents and other adults may be hesitant to letting teens drive, why put in all the work, all of the classes and hours of practice, just to be told you shouldn’t drive? Why would anyone try to prevent your development into a responsible and independent person?


Works Cited:

Brody, Jane E. “Helping Teenagers to Be Safer Drivers.” The New York Times. November 26, 2018. Accessed December 17, 2018.

“Motor Vehicle Safety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. October 19, 2018. Accessed December 17, 2018.

“Pros & Cons of Driving at the Age of 16.” How To Adult. Accessed December 17, 2018.

“Pros & Cons of Teens Driving to School.” LIVESTRONG.COM. Accessed December 17, 2018.

Sperling, Author. “Massachusetts Junior Operator Law License Restrictions.” Massachusetts Auto Insurance. May 24, 2011. Accessed December 17, 2018.

“Teen Driving Statistics.” RMIIA. Accessed December 14, 2018.

Voas, Robert, and Tara Kelley-Baker. “Licensing Teenages: Nontraffic Risks and Benefits in the Transition to Driving Status.” PMC. July 15, 2013. Accessed December 12, 2018.!po=0.595238.


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