Does Delaying Driving To 18 Or Older Provide Any Real Benefit?

7 April 2017
 Categories: Education & Development, Articles

With reminders of the risks of teen driving constantly hanging over you as a parent, it can be tempting to tell your children they can't drive until they become adults at age 18. However, this decision could backfire and leave your teen a lot less prepared than usual to face the challenges of the road, regardless of the age they start driving. Find out why delaying driving, especially driving training, is not necessarily a good idea.

Reducing Sheer Accident Volume

In most studies comparing drivers who start at either age 16 or 18, it is true that those starting two years later experience fewer accidents by the numbers alone. Unfortunately, the accidents that the 18 year old new drivers experience are much more likely to result in serious injury or even death. This is because while the slightly older new driver may be a little better at paying attention to their surroundings, they're still lacking in experience and don't tend to follow the slow and gradual training curve followed by the younger set. All older drivers show this experience gap during the first year of driving, but the effect is most pronounced in the 18 year old age group.

Missing Out on Training

There's a time honored and well-tested system of administering driving lessons and hands on driver training to 16 year olds through high school programs or public classes. While there are plenty of private options as well for people of all ages who want to brush up on their skills, the cost and time commitment often causes 18 year olds to skip this kind of training instead of investing in it. If they do choose to pursue traditional training with a professional, they often spend less time in training because most states allow new drivers 18 and above to apply with little to no specific training, at least for the first permit.

Reducing Parental Guidance

In the majority of US states,  teens can't drive on their own without a parent, or at least an adult over the age of 21, in the passenger seat to provide guidance. This kind of limited driver's permit provides a lot of direct support and guidance to new drivers who are tempted to drive a little too fast, forget the seat belt, or text while on the road. Some states allow 18 year olds to skip the parental training period since they may need to drive immediately to work a job or attend college, yet this backfires when it allows very inexperienced drivers on the road without anyone in the co-pilot's seat to provide a little help.

Existing Tiered Systems

Limitations on initial driving permits, such as traveling with a parent or without fellow teens in the car, are part of what's known as the tiered driving system. Other common tiered limitations include:

  • Driving during difficult hours like late at night and early in the morning
  • Traveling more than a certain number of hours per week or month
  • Driving outside of your school and work route.

All of these tiered limitations are slowly lifted as the driver gains experience through the months and years, resulting in drivers that are ready to face the world. Since most drivers that are 18 and up get to skip most or all of these tiered limitations, they're given too much responsibility all at once.

Don't rely so heavily on the idea that your teen will be much more mature and ready to drive after just two more years. By easing them into the world of driving very slowly over the course of two to three years, you can feel assured that they're ready to hit the road by 18 without having to start their entire education at that point. Just reach out to a place like with your 16 year old, and make sure they get the instruction they need.