It’s getting close to that time of my life; my son is almost old enough to get his driver’s license. He still has to go almost a year before he can do his written test, but he says he can’t wait. He’ll have to though. He asked me if there is any part of Canada that can allow him to get his beginner’s permit before he’s 16 and I said yes; Alberta. He asked why most of the world makes you wait until you’re 16 before you can start your driving career. A good question, but is there a good answer?
Ever since I was 16 years old I had heard rumours that the minimum driving age was going to raise to 18 or even higher. Should the age be 18, 19 or even 20? Should the age drop to 15 or even 14? How responsible would a teen be when it comes to operating a vehicle and having their friends in it at 14 or 15 years old? Would they be more responsible at 18, 19 or 20?
It’s becoming more common to realize that teens use their emotions to make their choices as opposed to logic that adults tend to use; most of the time. If that’s the case, why put them at risk of injury or death by letting them drive when they are 14 or 15? To some teens, 16 years of age is still too young to learn to drive. I’ve had many students who were 18 years old when they got their learner’s permit. Their parents didn’t allow them to get their learner’s until they were older and more responsible. That’s not a bad idea; put in parameters for your own kids, regardless of what the minimum government age is for your jurisdiction.
As a parent, we need to protect our kids. We rarely give in when they say their friends get to do it so why can’t they do the same when it comes to other things in their lives, so what makes driving any different? It a privilege to drive, not a right. I’ve had some students over the years that really should have waited until they were in their twenties before they started to learn to drive. Their maturity level and attitude alone would force them to make poor driving choices. They were very emotional people. On the other hand, I’ve had some very responsible 16 year olds who acted as though they were in their late twenties. It’s a person-by-person decision and something that parents need to monitor first.
That’s where my son comes in. Is he mature enough to drive? Would his friends influence his choices? Of course they would, but that’s the case with most people. Where we as parents can help my son is limit who he can drive with. If he continues to show responsibility with other parts of his life, he just may be responsible enough to handle a vehicle. Teens who tend to be lazy in life and don’t show much responsibility and constantly try to take the easy way through life may not be ready to learn to drive. If you’ve ever met a 16 year old who constantly acts like a 6 year old, you know exactly what I mean
The government may be doing their responsibility by restricting the age of getting a learner’s permit, but as a parent, we can do more. Take some time to decide if your teen can handle the responsibility of a vehicle and responsibility of having passengers before registering them in driver training. Regardless of what the government says, you have the final decision if and when they can learn to drive.