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Rant & Rave

By Barbara Makahi

Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Cast vote on
lowering driving age

THERE are rumors on high school campuses that the age to obtain a driver's permit will be raised to 18. I've asked around and some say the rumors are false and some say it's true.

Students can make their voices heard on this matter by participating in the Kids Voting election, where one of 10 questions on the ballot is, "Should the driving age be raised from 15 to 18 years of age?"

I believe the age should not be raised. Take, for example, the following situation: You really need a license to drive because you live in a single-parent home and you're assigned to do the grocery shopping. You go to the store, buy everything that your mom or dad put on a list, and end up carrying 10 bags of groceries home.

You may be able to carry them now, but as you get older, you'll suffer tense and stressed muscles and bones. So having some means of transporting groceries will be better for your long-term health. And a bicycle won't hold you and 10 bags of groceries. A car is necessary.

You will also need to know how to drive to perform various tasks for your family. What if a family member collapses and needs immediate medical attention when no one else is home? Are you going to call an ambulance? How much would that cost?

If I were in that situation, I'd worry that I wouldn't be able to afford the cost. Under similar circumstances, would you wait until someone comes home, risking your loved one's life? Of course not. You'd drive -- with the aid of your permit or license -- to the hospital.

Who knows how many emergencies will come up between the time you're 15 and 18?

Now, let's say you have a late birthday so you go to college at age 17. If the permit age is raised to 18, you won't be able to drive and when it's time for you to move into your dormitory room, how will you transport your worldly possessions? You'll feel more like a baby than a college student if you're still being chauffeured by your parents.

And forget about dating if someone has to drive you to the movies or nightclubs. How romantic is that?

So I hope that students allow their voices to be heard by those who control the licensing bureau. Please do not raise the driving age, but consider lowering it to 13 instead!

Barbara Makahi is a 9th grader
at Lutheran High School of Hawaii.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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