A+ for research

With oral presentations coming up, you will need to be pretty dynamite at research in order to stand out from the crowd.

I have chosen (…made up.., ok, stolen…) the topic: Young people should be allowed to drive younger. This is obviously insane. Young people are terrible drivers and, for a range of reasons too great to mention, will be a greater danger to themselves and almost everyone else alive if they are allowed to do so. Luckily, you don’t need to agree with your contention to do a good presentation.

If you want poor results, just ask the question

To gauge the internet’s feeling about this, I waded in by asking Google: ‘Should young people be allowed to drive earlier?

This was the least productive of my searches but, due to the magic of the internet, even bad searches can get good results.

The first answers were totally irrelavent, a couple of hits about elderly drivers, a couple of hits from lazy kids asking debate sites the same question. I’m not after the unfiltered thoughts of internet users, I want a broad overview from a professional writer working for a publisher with a reputation to manage. The sixth result was just that. I was delighted to find an article about lowering the driving age in the UK (“…controversial…”) but then disappointed and a bit surprised to find out that they don’t have what’s known as ‘graduated licences’ (think L plates) and were thinking about lowering the driving age to 16. Bummer.

Keywords and quotation marks

The article mentioned accidents. I thought that would be a good direction for my research so I tried the keyword ‘accidents’ plus the phrase ‘”teenage drivers”‘ (in inverted commas because I only wanted results about teeneagers). This confirmed that teenagers are also horrible drivers in the US. But maybe they are better here in dot au.

Site restrictions

To isolate information from australia I added ‘site:.au’. This returns only pages with an .au URL (accidents “teen drivers” site:.au). You can also do this to get .gov or .edu (or even .pdf for that matter) results. Alternatively, you can remove certain sites by putting a minus in front of them (accidents -.com will no longer return commercial sites, for example). For more awesome search operators, click here.

Unfortunately this confirmed that teenagers are terribly dangerous here as well. I am going to have a tough time making people think I am a good person while arguing that teens should be allowed to kill themselves and others earlier. But maybe if they were shackled to an adult while they are learning, they would be safer (defeating the whole, ‘teens want to be more independent argument’ but anyway…).


I searched for ‘rates of accidents for L-plate drivers’. It turns out that this statistic is not so easy to find. In hindsight, I probably should have searched for ‘accompanied’ drivers or tried to find the terminology that road safety authorities use to describe that relationship. I did however find this neat graphic:

L Platers

My argument is going to need some more work so now I am going to try to find some evidence that stretching the time young drivers spend with a licensed driver increases their safety and then work backwards from there.

Research can be a bit of a twisty-turny process but it can also be the most fun and interesting part of an assignment. Hopefully using these tips will make it moreso!


About timthelibrarian

Tim Harwood is a Teacher Librarian and eLearning enthusiast.
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