I remember when I first learned about different age requirements. When my parents first told me that I wouldn’t be able to drive a car until I was 16, I was really angry with them. At the time, I thought that it was unfair that my older brother could drive a real car, but I was only allowed to drive a plastic car in our backyard. I thought I would never be able to make it to 16 and drive a real car, and this was a big disappointment to me.
Since that day, I have often wondered why certain states believe that 16-year-olds are mature enough to drive a car.
Driving a car can not only have negative effects on the person driving but also on all other drivers around them. One reckless move, and the new 16-year-old driver can directly hurt many other people.
Lawmakers believe that teenagers are capable of handling the responsibility of driving but not capable of voting for a government official until they are 18. Voting for a governmental position does not endanger a person’s life; it seems illogical that a 16-year-old legally get behind the wheel of a car but cannot legally vote.
Furthermore, our government allows 18-year-olds to enlist in the military and go to war. In war, an 18-year-old may be given a gun and asked to kill an enemy, yet he or she is not legally old enough to have a drop of alcohol.
These examples shows that age requirements, like the minimum driving age, drinking age, and voting age, are arbitrary.
In Seattle, for example, it is illegal for a 19-year-old to order a beer at a restaurant, but two hours away, in Vancouver, Canada, he or she could walk into a bar and legally order and consume drinks all night.
It is clear, too, that age does not equal maturity. In reality, a person’s maturity depends less on his or her actual age and more on life experience and personal integrity. It is possible to find a teenager who is more mature than a middle-aged person.
But our society is based more on a person’s age than his or her maturity level. Age is an unsatisfactory way to determine whether people should or should not be permitted to have certain privileges, but it is used because it is a easy metric to set the rules for various activities.