Although children are often eager to learn how to drive, they typically do not have the emotional maturity to handle such a safety-critical task. Despite clear rules limiting driving privileges to older teens, younger teens sometimes drive, often with tragic results.
A fatal crash in Texas caused by a 13-year-old in March 2022 drew national attention to the issue of young teens driving illegally. The crash in this situation involved a blown tire, an issue a more mature driver could have handled. The young driver could not, and nine people died as a result.
Are underage drivers really a noteworthy safety concern on the Oklahoma roads?
Underage drivers cause more crashes than you think
Although you might assume that very few underage drivers get behind the wheel, you may feel shocked to hear that statistics show others. In 2020, a year that saw a massive drop in the number of hours driven overall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 1,057 crashes that hurt people and another 47 that killed people caused by drivers who were age 13 or younger at the time of the wreck.
Whether due to lax parental supervision, a dire situation or a lack of accurate information about driving privileges, some children get behind the wheel and eventually cause crashes while driving. Oklahoma encourages driver’s education for young teens to help reduce the risk of such crashes.
Graduated licenses deter unregulated youthful driving
Oklahoma has driving laws that should, in theory, protect against youthful driving. The state does not offer any kind of licensing or permit for those under the age of 15. Once a teen turns 15, they can start driving in a vehicle with a certified instructor.
At 15 years and six months of age, they can qualify for a learner’s permit that allows them to drive during the day when a licensed adult 21 or older is in the vehicle with them. 16-year-olds with enough driver’s training can take an exam for an intermediate license. Only those over the age of 18 can qualify for a full, unrestricted license in Oklahoma.