Editorial: Teens on the Road

Janet Jenkins, Reporter

Should students be able to drive during their freshman year of high school? This idea is being seriously considered by the state legislature. Currently, the state of Pennsylvania requires a minimum age of 16 in order to get a drivers license, but that may be changed. States like Arkansas and Montana have lower restrictions on the age for teens driving. 

Having young teens on the road in their beginning years of high school could be very dangerous. 

One of the leading deaths of teenagers is motor vehicle accidents. According to the CDC, “About eight teens ages 13-19 die every day from motor vehicle crash injuries.” This is mostly because of the lack of seatbelt use and attention put to the road. There are simple fixes to prevent this from happening, yet teens are careless and put themselves at risk when they are inattentive to small things that could save their life.

Safe Kids Worldwide Organization found that at least one in four teenagers claimed that they don’t use a seatbelt on every ride. Some of their reasons include that they forgot, weren’t planning on driving far, or were going to a party, or the seatbelt felt uncomfortable. Although a seatbelt can be a little uncomfortable, the whole reason it was made was to keep the driver and passengers safe and secure. Now, modern cars have modified their seatbelts to be more adjustable to give the feeling that the seatbelt isn’t there. The device only locks when the car suddenly stops. Some belts even come with comfort clips to hold the belt slightly slackened. Even if you’re still feeling a little discomfort, wearing a seatbelt is better than not wearing one and putting yourself in a deadly position. 

Distracted driving also is a primary factor, with two out of every five teenagers from the Safe Kids Worldwide Organization, saying that they have ridden with a teen driver who was texting. Now that teens are on their phone more, it’s easy to get distracted by their phone texting friends. Even if you think you’re a good enough driver to multitask and text while driving, there are still bad drivers on the road that could catch you when you’re looking down at your phone. In the state of Pennsylvania, it is also illegal to text and drive, so not only are you putting yourself in danger, but you’re also putting yourself in a position to receive a citation and have to pay more for insurance. The smartest thing to do before you start driving is to do all your texting first and then silence your cell phone, so you’re not tempted to look at it during your drive. 

If the age limit to driving was lowered in PA, this would only open up for more fatal crashes to happen. Next time you find yourself in a car with your friends, make sure to wear a seatbelt, and put down any distractions that could put you all at risk.