You just turned eighteen. By law you are considered an adult. You can do so much now! You can vote, buy cigarettes, gamble, enlist in the military, in three years you can drink alcohol, and you're halfway to the age of moving out of the basement! Eighteen truly is that magical number signaling responsibility.
But... what is so special about the age eighteen? And who decides these other numbers as to when these events occur in our lifetime? Why can we potentially die in a car wreck at 16, give up our life for our military at 18, but can't drink alcohol until 21?
Your opinion (probably)
We asked a of people which options they prefer out of modifying the drinking, enlistment, and driving age. The general consensus was to lower the drinking age, keep or raise the driving age, and keep or raise the enlistment age. This spread of data is mostly represented by the research conducted.
No matter the legal drinking age, teens will find a way to drink alcohol so having a legal drinking age only limits the public purchase of alcohol on teens.
Most teens do not start drinking until they reach high school so if the drinking age were lowered to 18, schools could offer more education about alcohol consumption and how to drink responsibly and parents could also try to guide their teens in the right direction by teaching them at home about responsible drinking before sending them off to college where they will be living on their own and most likely surrounded by parties and alcohol.
There is a division in college between the lower classmen and the upperclassmen by the fact that the upperclassmen are able to legally drink alcohol while the lower classmen are considered adults but cannot drink alcohol. The underage students are exposed to alcohol and they see their cohorts consuming alcohol and having a good time so they, too, want to join in, even if it’s illegal. It is more common for underage students to drink heavily compared to of age students. One reason for this is because underage students have limited access to alcohol so when they do have it, they consume as much as they possibly can. Of age students do not have to worry about access to alcohol so they can purchase and drink alcohol whenever they want so they tend to be more controlled.
Most politicians and their constituents do not want to lower the legal drinking age because they fear that it will lead to drunk driving which will then lead to more fatalities, but traffic fatalities are common to newly-legal drinkers no matter the age.
Many teens are hurt due to alcohol related injuries because they are afraid to reach out for help due to the fear of getting into trouble, but if the drinking age were lowered, teens would be less afraid to ask for help and the amount of teens hurt from alcohol related injuries would be reduced.
The economy would benefit from a lowered drinking age because then the age range of eligibility to buy alcohol would increase which would then increase sales because then more people could buy alcohol.
No one can seem to agree on which age is the “best” age to start driving behind the wheel. Even the driving age between states varies drastically. While there are many convincing arguments no matter which side of the fence you stand on, there must be an optimal path to take in regards to when the general populace should start driving. We use the restricted license as this is the first time teenagers first get behind the wheel without supervision.
One argument for raising the driving age is that teenagers ages 17 and below are statistically more likely to be aggressive on the road. This includes implies running red lights and stop signs, speeding, cutting people off, and other dangerous habits of driving on the road, while these habits seem to generally decrease the higher the age group. (Based on a telephone survey.) Raising the driving age will decrease the overall danger on the road.
Another argument for raising the driving age is, as stated previously, teenagers will always find a way to get alcohol. Whenever there is an access to alcohol, there is the opportunity for driving under the influence. This would reduce the amount of DUIs and therefore create a safer road.
One argument against raising the driving age is the fact no matter what age people start driving, they will always start out inexperienced. An inexperienced driver at age 16 will still be an inexperienced driver at age 18. The counterargument to this is there are programs sponsored by schools and other organizations that have a graduating license system where intense training and supervision behind the wheel is provided. This gives them the experience they need while also making sure everyone involved is learning good habits behind the wheel, creating a safer road.
The enlistment age in the United States is 18 years old. With parental permission, you can join at 17. There are two main arguments with this age choice. The first argument is that the age should be lowered. This can be observed in ancient Sparta. There, boys began intense training at the age of 7. This led to a strong military.
One major benefit to an early enlistment age is that it "increases the country's war-deterrence potential and lowers its likelihood of being attacked," (Levy, 420). However, the opposing argument is that the age needs to be raised from 18 years old. This may seem to originate from moral standpoint. However, there is reasoning behind it. 18 years old means you are an adult. There is no major physical or mental difference between being 17 and 18. Whereas you are far more developed when you are around 21 years old when compared to 18.
In the modern world, the biggest determining factor in every decision, especially military procedures, is money. Amnon Levy published an article in a journal that discusses an optimal enlistment age based on economic reasons. Those economic reasons involve everything from being injured and getting benefits to the standard of living of a veteran.
Levy creates various correlations that more or less will stay true with any type of circumstance. One example is that "The optimal enlistment age first rises and then declines with the value of the maximum probability of war," (Levy, 424). Levy comes to the conclusion that the best enlistment age is 21 years old. This primarily allows for the completion of a first degree in college. This will help the soldier return to a civilian life and have employment opportunities that a military only person would not have. Not only that, but a more mature enlistment age will help to reduce costs in post active duty soldiers.