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The Legal Driving Age Should Be Raised To 21 By Efa Sakinah Razak

It is stated under Laws of Malaysia Act 333 Road Transport Act 1987 that the legal driving age in Malaysia is 17 years old. This means that, teenagers who are still studying as Form Fives in local secondary schools are allowed to take driving license in this country. This fact is somehow terrifying and frightening, as it is commonly known how negligent youngsters can be. Therefore, there have been a lot of opinions and talks on raising the legal driving age to 21 years old due to few sensible reasons. The legal driving age in Malaysia should indeed be raised to 21 years old because teenagers are considered still immature at the age of 17. Besides that, they should in fact be concentrating fully on their high school education, and this step could also decrease the number of road accidents caused by youngsters.

Firstly, it is a wise step to increase the minimum age for obtaining driving license from 17 to 21 years old because the level of maturity among 17 year olds is mostly still low. There are teenagers at 17 who are not matured enough to take up driving lessons as they still do not have the confidence to drive vehicles (Yap, 2009). To master driving skills, it requires the confidence of the driver himself. The lack of experience in driving is one of the main reasons why teens aged 17 still have not achieve the level of confidence needed to drive. Furthermore, these young people are easily distracted; they do not know how to handle small emergencies or driving hazards (Mark, 2010). Once more, due to lack of experience in handling vehicles, most of young drivers do not know what to do when they face difficulties while driving, such as when their cars break down or when they are involved in a minor crash. They are not familiar with the technical components of the cars yet, thus they could not handle the breaking down of a car by themselves and this left them with no choice but to call their parents most probably. Additionally, the immaturity is apparent when their driving practices are being exposed (Road Injury Prevention & Litigation Journal, 2010). Driving practices such as speeding, street races, and tailgating become natural habits of todays young drivers. The excitement of youngsters usually causes them to drive faster than the permitted speed limit. These driving practices will not only cause them to earn driving tickets, but also may lead to disastrous road accidents.

Another reason why legal driving age should be raised to 21 is because teenagers at the age of 17 should be concentrating fully on their education. They are still in high school and will be sitting for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination. Therefore, their full attention should be on their studies. However, based on psychological research, teenagers seem to think that once they earned their driving license, they now have the authority to go out anywhere on their own. Parents could say no when their kids ask for their permission to go out, but with a driving license in hand, teenagers could easily abandon their parents prohibition and take the car to drive. Hence, the action of raising the legal age of driving is actually another way for parents to control their children, and also a manner to ensure teens to stay focussed on their schooling. It is mostly agreed by psychologists that teens will be in a better mental state to take driving lessons when they are at the age of 21, as they most probably just graduated from colleges by then (Vetter, 2008). They will be more matured, mentally and physically, than they were at 17. Moreover, the step of abstaining these youngsters from getting their car license at 17 is actually relieving their parents from the financial burden, since the fees of driving license intake are expensive. The cost of driving lesson is ranged from RM600 to RM1000+. Compared to 17 years old high school students, individuals aged 21 have better financial positions; so they do not have to solely rely on their parents to pay for their driving lessons.

Furthermore, by implementing this step, the high number of road accidents occurred that were caused by youngsters could be reduced. Based from a study, the risk of crash involvement per mile driven among 16-19 year olds is 4 times the risk among older drivers (Clifton, 2010). This piece of information is terrifying indeed. The thrill of driving causes teenagers to abandon the safety on the road. This practice is very dangerous as it increases the risk of road accident occurrence among young drivers. Road accidents can negatively affect a person in so many ways. For that reason, any possible factor that could lead to road crashes should be eliminated. In addition, statistics showed that teen car accidents are the number one cause of loss of life for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 20 (Hills, 2008). This evidence is also petrifying because it involves the matter of life and death of a child. These two researches have proven how teenagers under 21 are still incapable of driving safely. This is a serious problem and the government should certainly see this as a strong reason to amend the law thus raise the legal driving age from 17 to 21.

As a conclusion, in order to prevent any more unfortunates from happening, it is best to raise the legal driving age in Malaysia to 21 years old. Due to the immaturity of these teenagers at the age of 17, it is verified that they are still not ready to hold the responsibility of driving. Moreover, as secondary school students, they should be focussing on their schooling first before thinking of taking driving lesson. This measure is also seen as a prudent step to decline the rising number of road accidents caused by teenagers. Therefore, the government should discuss about this issue critically, considering the positive impacts that this action could bring.

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References

Jonah, B.A., & Dawson, N.E. (1997). Youth and risk: age differences in risky driving, risk perception, and risk utility.

Hills, S. (2008, June 28). Teen Car Accidents Has Lead To New Legislation. Retrieved from http://www.car-accident-advice.com/teen-car-accidents.html

Vetter, J.K., & Lostys, F. (2008, August). Special Report: The Dangers of Teen Driving. Readers Digest. Retrieved from http://www.rd.com/family/dangerous-teen-drivers/

Yap, C.L. (2009, August 25). Should the Age For Obtaining a Car License (Class D) Be Raised From 17 to 21? Retrieved from http://driving-school.com.my/driving-in-malaysia/raisingthe-minimum-age-for-malaysian-to-get-their-driving-license/

Mark, R. (2010, July 12). Raising the Driving Age. Retrieved from http://www.allfreeessays.com/essays/Raising-The-Driving-Age/189517.html

Clifton, C. (2010, October 18). Teen Drivers: Fact. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html

Mitchell, G. (2011, February 15). Raising the Minimum Driving Age. Retrieved from http://www.directessays.com/viewpaper/83911.html