Sixteen, what a great age. An age where you perceive everyone older than you to be completely oblivious to life. An age where anything is possible.
An age where you can finally get your driver's license.
That meant, however, that for those six months before you turned 16 you had to log fifty hours of driving with your parents, go to driver's education and ride along with some depressed retiree in a horrible little Saturn.
I don't think that is enough. Here's why.
Say you're driving along in the rain, and you hit a massive puddle. Since your tires are getting on in age, the car starts to hydroplane. In a panic, you hit the brakes and end up facing the opposite direction with your rear wheels stuck in a ditch. Thankfully, here comes a police officer who saw it all and is here to help you.
Sure enough, he lays a road flare and waits for a tow truck with you. However, once your car is retrieved unscathed he writes you a ticket for "failure to maintain reasonable control." What the heck?
This is the problem. We get tickets for things we have been taught not to do. Loitering, speeding, drugs, etc. But how on Earth can someone hand you the keys to a two-ton pile of steel and rubber and then tell you "don't crash" when no one ever taught you how not to crash?
What driving instruction, from my experience, teaches you how to do is drive a car assuming that nothing bad is ever going to happen. Once something bad does happen, you have no practice in "maintaining reasonable control" whatsoever. By the time I had progressed to my in-car instruction, I already had plenty of practice driving a car. The only new things I learned were how to parallel park (for which I'm still grateful), and how to pick up coffee at McDonald's. We never practiced emergency maneuvers. We never practiced controlled slides.
I think that is why some people only feel comfortable in a Suburban. No 16-year-old kid in a hand-me-down Corolla is going to damage the impenetrable behemoth. However, when the 16-year-old ends up hitting the Suburban because no one taught him what to do, he probably doesn't stand a chance.
You probably think with today's modern safety systems like traction control, ABS and stability control teaching these sort of things is becoming unnecessary anyways.
Earth to reader, those systems fail... all the time. Especially on an older car that is being neglected by its 17-year-old owner that works at Wendy's. Why would he want to pay $600 to fix electronic safety equipment?
There are very helpful defensive driving courses that are optional for families to take together. The truth is, they should be mandatory for anyone that is learning how to drive. The bare minimum for someone to get a driver's license is way too low, and it could be a big contributor to how many accidents happen each year.
Do we need to raise the age to 16 or 17? No. We just need to raise the amount of instruction, for all our sake.