Legal Driving Age Around the World

In the U.S. the legal driving age is 16. There are rules that one must meet before one received their drivers license, like:

  • Obtaining a learner’s permit (the rules for obtaining a permit vary by state)
  • Taking driver’s education classes
  • Taking a written driving exam
  • Passing a practical driving test

Most of us are familiar with the above rules, but what about the rest of the world? The legal driving age in other countries varies quite a bit:

  • North America
    • Canada: 16 in most provinces
    • United States: 16
    • Mexico: 16
  • Central America
    • Costa Rica: 18
    • El Salvador: 15
  • South America
    • Columbia: 16
    • Argentina: 17
    • Peru: 18
    • Dominican Republic: 16
    • Bahamas: 17
    • Cuba: 18
  • Middle East
    • Iran: 18
    • Iraq: 18
    • Israel: 16 years and 9 months
  • South Asia
    • India: 18
    • Sri Lanka: 17
  • East Asia
    • South Korea: 18
    • Japan: 18
  • Southeast Asia
    • Philippines: 18
    • Thailand: 18
    • Vietnam: 18
  • Europe
    • Germany: 17
    • France: 15
    • Iceland: 16
    • Greece: 18
    • Lichtenstein: 18
    • United Kingdom: 17
    • Poland: 18
    • Russia: 18
    • Monaco: 18
  • Oceania
    • Australia: 16
    • New Zealand: 16
    • Fiji: 17

Eighteen appears to be the most common age to acquire a driver’s license around the world. So if you travel abroad make sure you know the legal driving age for the country you’re visiting and be sure to know if your U.S. driver’s license is valid or if you need an international driver’s license.

Given the above data, as well as what we know today about accident statistics, brain development and maturity, should the U.S. rethink the minimum age? Here are some popular opinions on this topic:

  • Raising the legal driving age: When looking at the overall maturity of teenagers, it’s safe to say that raising the minimum driving should be a consideration. According to the Allstate Blog, “driving accidents are the leading cause of death for people under the age of 18.” Due to the lack of maturity of the teenage brain, teen drivers are more susceptible to lapses in judgment, thrill-seeking behavior, mood swings, and impulses that have the potential to negatively affect their driving skills. If a teen’s driving skills are negatively affected, a danger is posed not only to themselves, but other drivers as well. While not all teens are irresponsible and immature, it may be beneficial to increase the driving age to 18 in order to protect everyone.
  • NOT Raising the legal driving age: If inexperience is the cause of many accidents, then raising the driving age to 18 or 25 or even 40 won’t change that fact. Teens have to get experience somehow and the only place to do that is behind the wheel. Teens at 16 aren’t able to help with household errands in the same way if they don’t have a driver’s license. Many 18-year-olds are getting ready to move out of the house and either get a job or go to college. At 17, without a driver’s license, it becomes more difficult to find work. Some kids might even go to college without a license. Teens are doing more than just preparing themselves for their future. They’re also establishing a reputation of trust in their community. Not having a driver’s license puts a roadblock in the way of accomplishing this.

What’s your opinion on the legal driving age? Let us know in the comments below.


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