Driving Age Essay, Research Paper
Thomas Jefferson said, ?The freedom and happiness of man are the sole objects of all legitimate governments.? This is why the federal government should not restrict the minimum driving age of Americans. Such, actions is un-constitutional in that it violates the rights of the individual States (10th amendment), and those of young Americans (The Preamble).
The Federal government has the power to regulate inter-state commerce between states in dispute. The Department of Transportation (D.O.T.) and the National Highway system were established under this power. On the other hand, the constitution reserves, for the States, the power to regulate commerce within their own boundaries. State roads, vehicle licensing, operator licensing, and the like, are included in those powers. However, over the past four decades, the Federal government has increasingly used its powers to dictate, to the States, policies requiring them to pass laws to conform with Federal guidelines. Through the threat of withholding Federal highway funds. Measures such as the National Speed Limit Act and a national drinking age have been so mandated. States, in peril of losing billions, are forced to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) direction. This, oversteps the DOT?s constitutional authority. Now, another Federal dictate looms over the States? road and highways. DOT desires a national minimum driving requirement of persons of at least 18 years of age and possessing a high school diploma. The DOT?s dictatorship of the American highway continues and its disregard for the liberties of America?s teens becomes blatantly obvious.
In many cultures when a person turns sixteen, he or she is accepted as an adult. For Jewish males, adulthood arrives as early as age 12, via the Bar Mitzvah. In Africa, tribes arrange marriages between people as young as 12 or 13. In 1920?s America, many teenagers were allowed (and often encouraged) to drive as early as 13 or 14. In today?s mobile society a teen?s car keys symbolize a rite of independence-the ability to move about without the control or largesse of one?s parents. Families, in teaching teenagers to drive, participate in an American tradition of introduction to adulthood. On the road teens are given the same responsibilities as everyone else. More teens drive today than ever before. Recent studies show that, per capita, teens have lower accident rates as compared to adults in their early twenties to mid- thirties. Reaction times for teens are lower. Many accidents are avoided through one?s ability to react quickly. Schools currently teach drivers education as a required course in many states. Students learn to drive defensively, and responsibly. As a result, non-alcohol-related teen mortality rates have decreased considerably. And, more adults are killed than teens each year in alcohol-related accidents.
Clearly, the rights of each State to determine the requirements for issuing operators permits to its citizenry are of little concern to a DOT wrapped up in its own bureaucratic wisdom. But, worse is the DOT?s contempt for the freedom guaranteed all Americans under the Preamble to our Constitution. For surely, in the 21st Century, to roll back American teens? passage to independence is to deny them the right to ?liberty? and ?the pursuit of happiness?.