The Eighth Page

Point Counterpoint: Increasing the Driving Age

When the state officials announced that the driving age in Massachusetts would be increased to 18 from its current 16, many local adolescents were outraged. I was not one of them. I say it’s about damn time. I also say Superman would own Batman in a fight. (Features Writing Tip #46: Present your argument, and follow it with another, obviously correct argument. Example: Gay marriage should be legal & the phallic statue is hilarious. This will win the admiration and trust of your reader, and they will believe your initial proposal) Some say the drinking age should be 18 years old also, claiming that “if you can fight and die for your country, you should be able to have a beer too.” I’ve added my own saying to that well known idea: “the age at which you can order products from television infomercials should be the same as the driving age, as well as the age that you may buy a subscription to Playboy.” That way, all in the same year, you will gain the privilege to not only drive, but drive as you read a Playboy while carefully monitoring the George Foreman grill on the dashboard. Ladies and gentlemen, that is my thesis. Now let me explain. I am at a beautiful age. I’ve grown six inches in one year. My pants are all too short, and when I go back to my old school I feel like a giant. My man boobs have faded away (mostly), and my voice has gone from that of a little schoolgirl to that of a, oh, I don’t know, maybe a college girl. In the midst of an awkward, smelly puberty, the last thing I want to do is get behind the wheel of the death chariot known as the automobile. Back home in Ohio, where the driving age is still 16, I have recently begun my Driver’s Ed experience. I consider myself a competent guy; sure I occasionally make a fool of myself in the library as I walk into a ‘pull’ door, but in general, I can figure stuff out. I, being 15 and a half, recently got behind the wheel of a teen’s dream car: the 2003 Toyota Sienna. The coolest feature of this minivan is the DVD entertainment system in the backseat, which helpfully distracts the passengers (aka my little sister and her North Face touting friends) in the car while I swerve through oncoming traffic and elderly pedestrians. I can clearly state that I am not ready to drive. I don’t like it when there is a car behind me. I don’t like it when there is a car in front of me. I don’t like it when it rains. I don’t like it when it’s dark. I don’t like it when it’s cold (I don’t know how to turn on the heat). I get scared making turns. I break a sweat changing lanes. I can’t talk while I drive. I scream when I go through intersections. I take out mailboxes with my side-view mirror, but I don’t notice. In short, I drive exactly like my grandmother. Obviously, there are many reasons why it’s cool to drive when you are 16. The independence is great. Now you, not your mother, can pick up your little sister at school, drop her off at tap lessons, pick up more milk and go to the beauty parlor. But what we learn in two years could be vital. Consider the knowledge we can obtain in two years: when I was born, all I knew was that I always had a little toy with me between my legs. But at the age of two, I knew a few colors and shapes, and that other people did not want to see my favorite toy. Imagine that, only two years and a wiser person. As you can see, I, a perfectly normal boy, am nowhere near ready to be in control of my life and lives of others. I need at least two years until I will be responsible enough to pilot an automobile and at least three years until I can talk to a girl without bringing up my asthma and/or retainers. Pass the law, Massachusetts. And while you’re at it, why the hell do you have to be 17 to see an R movie? That’s just ridiculous; everybody needs a little gratuitous nudity now and then.