As a parent, you try to balance helping your child gain independence with waiting to introduce new responsibilities until they're ready. But did you know that when it comes to driving, waiting may not be the safest strategy?
Statistics from the Washington State Department of Licensing show that young drivers who forego graduated licensing at age 16 or 17 – and the required driver's ed classes, parental driving instruction and passenger and nighttime restrictions that come with it – are less prepared to hit the road when they turn 18, even though they're more mature.
They have greater difficulty passing their driver's test. And once they do, they rack up about three times as many tickets compared with drivers licensed at 16. Even more worrisome, they have a significantly higher fatal crash rate.
The difference seems to be the drivers' real-world experience. With no training or practice period required, 18-year-olds can get full driving rights the minute they pass their state's written and road tests.
The big takeaway for parents? Whether they drive at 16, 18 or sometime after college, new drivers need sensible limits and experience – the kind that comes only through hours of careful training – before taking that first solo drive.