The freedom of transportation is an invaluable asset in everyone’s life. As you probably know, experience is everything in life, and driving is no exception. There is a reason that young drivers pay the highest insurance rates. Therefore, knowing which age is appropriate to mitigate the risks is an important decision for both parents and young folks.
Statistically speaking, the best age to start driving is as late as possible, at 18 or older. A young person’s maturity level, resourcefulness, and experience are key. Before driving alone, it is a good idea for a new driver to get a learner’s permit and spend dozens of hours driving with an experienced driver.
In this article, we’ll be taking a closer look at all the qualifications that make a driver reliable. I’ll list all the things you need to think about carefully before you start driving or let your child start driving.
1. Age Is Relative
Many countries offer the option of becoming a driver at the crisp age of 16, while there are countries that only allow it after turning 18. But that doesn’t mean everyone is necessarily always ready at the minimum age.
It’s widely known to everyone that young people attain knowledge easier than older people. As our brains age, it becomes more difficult for them to act as sponges and learn – that’s why the largest part of our education is taking place during the first three decades of our lives.
Older people usually have a more challenging time learning everything, be it theoretical or practical. Many older people who decide to start driving notice that they’re not learning it well and usually have trouble passing their practical exams.
This is not without reason. It’s difficult to collect knowledge and learn something after the age of 40, and most drivers who start driving at that age are insecure about their skills. That’s because the number of hours needed to teach you to drive isn’t enough when you’re older – you need more practice to learn something that would take much less training if you were younger.
If you have the option to start driving in your adolescence, be it during high school or later, take it. It’s going to become much more challenging to pick up and master any skill when you’re older. Our brains are designed to act as sponges when we’re younger, and they’re more rigid when we’re older.
Denying your child the option of passing their driver’s exam is entirely up to you, but it may have more consequences down the road, as it’s only going to be more difficult for them to learn how to drive later in their life.
People who start colleges or other forms of higher education later in life only have more problems with studying – that’s why it’s best to learn all the critical skills in life very early. We’re learning as we live, yes, but some things are best to be taught earlier.
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2. Maturity Is Key
The most dangerous flaw that comes with being immature is overrating oneself.
Despite the common opinion saying the exact opposite – maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age. There are plenty of older people (by older, we mean non-adolescent) who act immaturely, and they drive recklessly. This is, of course, caused by many things, not just age. There are even drivers who have on numerous occasions been in trouble because of their dangerous driving, and they’re still driving dangerously.
Similar to that, many adolescents are level-headed and very grounded, meaning that they know what’s smart and what isn’t, and don’t make the mistake of driving recklessly. Many traffic accidents are caused by young people, not because of maturity or lack thereof, but because of inexperience. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to solve this problem aside from letting them drive. The only way to become a more experienced driver is to spend more time on the road.
However, puberty is there to make us more mature, so it shouldn’t shock anyone that many young people are still immature. This definitely qualifies them as people who shouldn’t be driving. The most dangerous flaw that comes with being immature is overrating oneself. Many young drivers are willing to make three major mistakes when driving: drinking, speeding, and texting (sometimes even simultaneously).
“It’s just one beer.” can often lead to five beers. Even when that happens, many young people are smart enough to leave their car wherever it is and call a taxi. There are, unfortunately, many young people who insist on driving.
“I’m totally fine, I can totally drive right now!” – this is a sentence that’s heard too often, unfortunately. Driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics is incredibly dangerous. The best thing that can happen is that you, as a driver, are lucky enough to get home safely. And if that happens, you should keep your head down, consider yourself lucky, and never let it happen again. However, it can end much, much worse. You can lose your driver’s license, or you can hurt yourself or someone else.
If you’re drinking, don’t ever drive.
The second immature mistake young people make is speeding. This is a direct consequence of overrating oneself.
Young people are eager to prove their own maturity to themselves, and they’ll often speed, thinking that that’s something only capable people do. This thinking is wrong. Anyone can press the gas pedal, and anyone can reach top speeds if they’re given access to a vehicle. This doesn’t make them any better a driver than someone who is staying below the speed limit. Being a good driver means that you know when to drive quickly and when you should stop. That’s driving maturity.
If you’re the type of driver to speed in a residential neighborhood with kids playing on the pavement, you’re very irresponsible, and you should think twice about whether you should be driving. If you believe that your child could be that sort of a driver, then you need to talk to them and explain that some things simply can’t be happening.
It’s okay to drive over the limit on a completely empty, dry road. It’s very dangerous, though, to be speeding on a busy street in a populated area.
Texting is hazardous because your attention needs to be concentrated on the vehicle and the road before you. That’s all that’s important at that point, and using cellphones while driving will cause your reaction time to drop, lower your reflexes, and it will keep your head elsewhere. It also takes up a hand, which is essential because you need to maintain control of the vehicle.
This is what comes with maturity. Mature people, be they adolescent or older, know when to press the gas and when to hit the brakes. Don’t confuse this with experience, which is something we’ll be talking about later – this is maturity. The ability to gauge whether it’s safe to do whatever it is you want to do.
The general rule should be: drive in whatever way you want, but the moment you’re suspecting danger – slow down. If you think that your child will follow that rule, they’re probably mature enough to start driving. Noticing what those dangers are – that’s experience and driving skill.
3. (In)experience Is the Biggest Issue
Unfortunately, driving instructors can all agree that they don’t have enough time to turn a non-driver into a good driver. They only have enough time to teach a non-driver to pass the exam.
What’s most important about experience is recognizing two things: possible dangers on the road and the chance to optimize your driving.
First, we need to recognize that many people have natural driving instincts. We’re not going to talk about this now, as we’ll devote a whole section to it later. Still, some people can naturally fit into the role of a responsible driver very well. They’re inherently good at recognizing dangers on the roads and the opportunities to get to their destination quicker.
Driving experience is essential, and it only builds with more hours behind the wheel. However, not all of us start at the same place – some people are just naturally better drivers.
Tip For Parents: To help your child with gaining experience, it’s best to talk to them while you’re driving. Explain to them what you’re doing “I’m slowing down because there’s a speed limit.”, “I’m accelerating because I’m going to overtake the car in front of me.”, “See that car who just ran a red light? Don’t ever do that, that’s dangerous.”, “I’ll honk at the driver in front of me to warn them that they’re driving recklessly/too slow.” – this is the best way to teach your child how to drive well, early on.
This way, once they actually start learning how to drive, they’ll have a lot of experience. They’ll know when they can speed up and when they need to slow down. They’ll be able to recognize bad driving terrain – knowing that rain or hail are perilous as they lower tire grip and lower their visibility. They’ll know how drag works and how to improve their mileage.
That’s why it’s maybe best to ride around for a while after your child has passed their exam – if they got a driver’s license at 16, perhaps you should spend a few months driving with them, pointing out their mistakes and advising them how to do better. Unfortunately, driving instructors can all agree that they don’t have enough time to turn a non-driver into a good driver. They only have enough time to teach a non-driver to pass the exam.
This is a sad truth, but it’s a fact, as well. Everything’s circulating around money, and the job of a driving school is to teach someone how to pass the driver’s exam – not to teach them to be a great driver. That’s why a parent who is an experienced driver should always advise their child and show them how to be a better driver.
Many accidents can happen not because the driver was reckless but because they legitimately didn’t know what they were doing. That’s inexperience – driving schools don’t prepare their candidates for every possible scenario that would take literal years. This is why it’s best to talk to your child and explain what they need to do if they ever find themselves in a bad spot.
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4. Gauging Resourcefulness
What makes a good driver is the ability to adapt to challenging situations.
Let’s face it – some people are naturally clumsy. Driving is a skill that requires mental handiness, which needs to be translated to physical movements which control the vehicle. There are many drivers out there who read the road well and know how to act in traffic, but they’re clumsy and shifting gears with one hand while balancing between clutch and gas with their feet and steering, all at the same time, is done horribly.
Similarly, some drivers are really handy, and they can do whatever they need to do with the physical part of the car, but they’re simply bad at reading the traffic and the road before them.
There are also natural drivers who are good at both, and you can simply see that they have complete control over the vehicle, and you never have to fear that they’ll do something bad.
This is a vital thing you have to factor in – how resourceful is your child? If your child is a person who’s going to be afraid to turn the lights on in their car because they might lose control or is your child the type of person who can drive safely while they’re sifting through radio stations and setting the AC.
This will come with experience, surely enough, if your child isn’t a natural. But it’s much better for them if they’re already handy and resourceful.
There are a lot of questions that need to be asked. Is your child going to be the sort of driver who doesn’t overtake a truck that’s driving slowly? Are they going to be the sort of driver who doesn’t know what to do when they see a traffic accident? Are they going to stick on the road despite seeing a traffic jam and knowing that it’s going to take them very long to go through? If the answer to these questions is ‘yes, then you need to explain to them that they might not be ready. It would be best if you tried to teach them how to react in these situations.
What makes a good driver is the ability to adapt to challenging situations. A driver needs to adapt to newly developed safety situations on the road, but it’s also important for them to get to their destination safely and on time. Many people don’t have the instinct to overtake someone who’s clogging the traffic, and this, despite being safe, is very bad driving which usually leads to two things – the driver being later everywhere (as those situations occur literally every day, someone on the road is always going to be too slow), and a jam being created behind the driver.
Driving is a very useful skill, but it can be a perilous task. This is because operating heavy machinery requires strength and peace of mind, which is something many young people haven’t attained in their youth.
In our opinion, it’s best to start learning how to drive when a person is in their youth. First, it’s best for them to ride in the front seat with their parent or guardian explaining everything they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and what’s going to happen next. This way, the future driver will learn to anticipate things on the road, and they’ll know how to react to certain things.
Remember that reckless driving always leads to bad things, be it something simple as losing the license to drive, or hurting someone. That’s why it’s crucial to think about whether the young driver will follow the rules. It’s very tempting to drink, speed, and text while driving. Many people do this, sometimes even simultaneously, but it’s never proven to be a good idea. That’s why you need to make sure that your child isn’t going to be that sort of a driver.
There are many experienced drivers out there who drive recklessly and many inexperienced drivers who drive responsibly. Determining which one your child will be is crucial. Talk to your child and ask them what their wishes are. How do they see driving? Do they think they’ll be a reckless or a responsible driver?
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Disclaimer: Ultimately, when it is best to start driving is up to the individual. Any information provided should not be taken as advice and is only intended to provide information. All information provided here was obtained via internet research. We will not be held responsible for any accidents that might occur from someone choosing to drive based on what they read here.
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.