Should a 16 year old get a
Drivers License?

At What Age Should We Drive?
Just My Opinion...
and I'm sticking to it

Yes, I was 16 once. That was fourty some years ago. I think every other sixteen year old male I knew, and most females, were looking forward to getting their drivers licenses. Believe it or not, I didn't.

Having two younger sisters made me think that I could become their chauffer. I also had a bicycle I figured could take me ANYWHERE I wished to go. To this day I think a bicycle is an energy efficient, pollution free, one person moving one person, form of mobility. It is also a great form of exercise. Who needs an exercise club? Let's go for a ride.

At the end I’ll also inform you as why I think we have licenses at sixteen. Anyway, back to the story.

My dad, Ernie Foster, taught me to drive. My mom, Mavis, had input, but my dad was probably the teacher for driving.

My dad had a bread truck and was a route driver-salesman. I believe it was a franchise operation. He covered Welland, Dunnville, and Niagara Falls. He delivered to the stores at the wholesale level. The brand name on the truck was Dempsters and operated under the Canada Bread lines. This is pretty much what I learned to drive in.

Just as I was turning sixteen my dad became just sick enough that he shouldn’t be driving. Even though I really didn’t want a driver’s license (can you believe a sixteen year old male didn’t want to drive? That was me) I went, applied for, and was granted a beginners license. With this I would drive my dad’s truck while he curled up in blankets and I drove between the stores, he would help with the deliveries, and do the paperwork. Back into the truck and I would drive.

Well I guess you could say I 'drove.' I was all over the road, and my dad would often have to recover the wheel for me. He survived, and so did I. Throughout this though I learned to listen to the vehicle, learned when and how to change gears, and how to be aware of everything around me.

My dad insisted I drive the vehicle I had control over, and the three in front of me, the one or two behind me, and any that were to my sides. This has turned out to be great training. Although I have been involved in nine accidents to date (that I can remember), I have never been charged with any of the accidents. I was always someone else’s victim. If I had followed my dad’s instructions properly, then I could have probably avoided being the victim half the time by knowing what they were going to do and out-maneuvering them. Still, I have to say, “Thanks dad for some great lessons,” and I know have saved me from other accidents in the making.

Another very interesting point about this driving a machine that can kill you, and others as well, was from my mother. Remember, I said, my mom had input? Although it didn’t happen in the end because she couldn’t control the weather, she INSISTED I be able to handle, drive, maneuver, and have FULL control of whatever I might be driving, and are you ready for this, in the absolute worst, snow storm and blizzard that there could be. Her attitude was that we lived in southern Ontario; we get snow, snow storms, and sometimes bad weather. She would not allow me to get a driver’s license unless, and until, I could drive through anything nature might toss at me. If she could have controlled the weather, my examination would have been in a snow storm.

Today I can drive through anything, and quite frankly hate snowplows, sand and salt trucks, just out messing up the roads. If you can’t see out of your windshield after a storm, I guarantee it’s because of the filth thrown up onto your windshield by other vehicles in front of you throwing up sand and salt. Let the snow fall. It’s clean. Your windshield won’t be cake-lined and filthy. We taxpayers pay to have our vehicles made an absolute mess of. I currently drive a blue colored vehicle, but after a storm, you might think it’s white. Ok, enough of that soapbox, let’s move on.

Still, at age sixteen? Should I have been driving? I don't think so. I was too way over-confident, too sure of myself, and as any teenager, invincible. Nothing could stop me.

Understand also, I didn't (and pretty much still don't) drink. Today’s teenagers are so much ahead of me in most things, I'm sure, as compared to my 'innocence' of 1965, '66, or '67. Drinking and drugs seem to be apparent and readily available to our youth today. When I was sixteen, these were probably the furthest thing from our minds. We were out to have fun, but by today’s standards, it was all innocent fun.

Where am I going? Hear me out. You may not agree, and that's okay. This is only my opinion, but I was a terror on the road at sixteen (and didn't drink), and don't like to hear about kids killing themselves (on Stanley behind Marineland; on Stanley at Thorold Stone Road; and I'm sure somewhere near you; etc) shortly after getting their licenses.

My suggestion is to change the drinking age to seventeen. Let the young person get the drinking out of their system before they are allowed to drive.

The driving age should then be changed to nineteen. The graduated system also seems to be a good idea. This means that a person would be twenty-one before they could legally drive with any alcohol in their system. The temptation also wouldn't be there in the same way if they've been allowed to drink for a couple of years before they drive.

Remember, just my opinion, but I think a good one for society. This is something that might save lives (and reduce our insurance rates).

Homes today also have two and three vehicles in their lanes. Maybe the amount of vehicles on the road might also have a reduction if children have to wait longer to get their license. It is predicted there will be twenty million more vehicles on the roads in North America by the 2020’s. Our population is aging, living longer, maintaining health longer, and still competently driving at older ages. The baby boomer generation have reached the age to drive and so now are their children.

This is all adding up to more drivers, but does every sixteen year old NEED their own car? And with fewer vehicles on the roads rather than more, maybe we'd also have less pollution. And using the law of supply and demand, fewer vehicles would need less fuel. What could happen to the price of fuel.

The bottom line of all this is this. We don’t really need kids going out and killing themselves, using up our natural resources, and helping to keep insurance rates too high. It may be time for a complete restructuring. Too much mobility is a main reason for family break-ups as well. I have a one vehicle per family policy and everyone has to work TOGETHER to get things done and make things work out.

I have this question running in my head. The question is this. Why, and who decided, sixteen was a good age to issue a drivers license? This is my theory. It’s what conclusion I have come to. It also justifies my thinking a person should not get a license before their twentieth birthday.

In days gone by, before there were automobiles, everyone used a horse with, or without, a buggy. Our grandparents and great-grandparents lived, worked, and were likely raised on a farm. The people of these generations also had ‘chores’ and worked as part of their existence. Then machinery in general started to become available. As this new machinery started to be used, the responsibly, the dangers, and the benefits were learned as part of growing up. It wasn’t long before a child knew how dangerous a piece of equipment could be. They would quickly learn to respect what could happen.

As years moved on and machinery and equipment advanced, so did the families that had benefit of this modernization. It wasn’t long before the tractor was a farm mainstay, and every child knew how to drive one at an early age. By the time most kids were eleven or twelve, they were already driving the tractor around, and quite possible using other equipment as well. They would learn the function, the dangers, and to respect, the using of this equipment. By the time a child reached the age of sixteen, they had already learned the responsibility of, and had been driving, a piece of farm equipment for five or more years. They had a lot of experience under their belt right at home. Moving that experience onto the roadways seemed like a logical choice.

The teenager of today has not always been taught, instructed, or understand, respect. Unfortunately, this applies to more than just an automobile. As my mom would say, “Anyone can aim an automobile, but can they drive it? Or does it drive them?” My mom is pushing eighty, and is still an excellent driver. She would not allow any of her children to take a drivers exam until we could drive a ‘standard,’ without power steering or brakes, and knew what the vehicle was telling us just by the sound. I know today trying to find a vehicle without an automatic transmission or without power steering or brakes is a daunting task, but that is not the point. Today we give a child a killing machine at a young age, and they haven’t had five or six years experience, haven’t been taught the whys or the sounds of an automobile, or understand the respect this killing machine needs to be given. Today’s automobiles also have a lot more power, and much quicker. Just watch at a change of a light to green. Most people are gone in a flash (which is also a fuel waster), and seem to care only about themselves on the road. Courtesy and respect are gone.

Another topic for later is this. What do our governments do to help make our roadways safer? They pass more laws. How stupid. The roads are no more safe by making a new law than they were before. If you give a license to an idiot, they are still an idiot.

My disclaimer

Do I really think everyone on the road is an idiot? Absolutely not. I’m just very aware how easy it is to get a license in Ontario (and I’m sure other places as well), and you don’t even have to speak a local language to take, or pass, your exam. Safety is not in the interest of the government. The propaganda about safety is, but not safety. More drivers equal more fuel, more insurance, more car sales, more maintenance, and ultimately, more taxes. It is all about government cash flow, money they will waste anyway, but that’s a topic for another place and time.

Just my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

Harvey Gordon

Now after all that, do you always have your mind on your driving? It is best to, but what about those rare occasions that might catch you off guard? Maybe this might help.

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