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Critical Analysis of Driving to the Funeral

‘Driving to the Funeral,’ and article by Anna Quindlen, presents a powerful argument against under-age driving. The article focuses on the number of teenagers who fail to graduate due to the fact that they lost their lives in road carnages. The author mainly attributes the cause of these accidents to inexperience of the teenagers and sheer recklessness associated with driving at a tender age. The author suggests an umbrella solution to the problem by suggesting that the minimum driving age to be drastically increased as a panacea to the problem of losing young lives to road accidents.


The article appears to be advisory in nature and is targeted at a parental audience. The audience targeted is one that comprises parents who have school going teenagers who have attained the minimum driving age and have qualified to have a driving license. The author appeals to parents to be patient and wait for their child’s full development into an adult prior to allowing them to driving themselves. 

In passing across her point against ‘under-age driving,’ Quindlen makes it clear that the major cause of deaths among young college students is road accidents. She uses statistics to support her arguments citing statistics such as that from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that clearly indicated that driving at sixteen years of age was not recommendable and a reason for many road accidents. She also makes a comparison between 17 year olds who drive and their 16 year old counterparts. The stark contrast between the numbers of road accidents between the two, clearly support her point that under-age driving is dangerous.  

`The author has strategically structured the text in a chronological manner, linking one paragraph to the other.

The author develops her story by linking each paragraph by introducing a fact or an analogy. For instance, in the first paragraph, the author introduces the story by re-creating the somber mood of parents and friends having to attend the funeral of a child and friend. This is followed by the clear statement of the fact in the second paragraph that the number one killer of youths aged between the ages of 15 years and 20 years is road accidents. This is then followed by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fact in the third paragraph. Through this technique the author manages to juggle between the emotions of the audience while remaining objective and within the boundaries of realism. Through this technique, the author has been able to clearly build on the thesis and illustrate her point.

In order to capture the audience’s interest in the story and persuade it to consider her viewpoint, the author makes appropriate use of analogies. She focuses on the love that parents have for their children and poses the question if a parent knew about a behavior that would result in the demise of their child would they not act on it? This is a rhetorical question that has a great impact on any parent. It is the catch statement that the author uses to persuade the audience that under-age driving is not worth what it promises. By creating a balance between attending a funeral and waiting a few years for a child to mature past the danger age of 16, the author is able to convincingly persuade the reader to support her stand on the issue.

The evidence that the author uses to support her claims are factual and open. There are several instances where facts are quoted as an illustration.

To begin with, she quotes the statistics by The National Highway Safety Administration that determined the correlation between the higher number of deaths among sixteen year olds licensed to drive and 17 year olds.

It was found to be much lower among the more mature 17 year olds than the 16 year olds. Furthermore, she cites the 1984, presumed solution to the problem, in which the drinking age was raised. However, there has been no considerable effect from the regulation. This is also in line with other stiffer regulations such as the ones placed in New Jersey. These have also been found not to be effective as youngsters still flaunt this regulation in youthful defiance.

Based on the author’s approach and support of her statements, she strongly appears to have expected opposition. Parents who allow their children to drive at a young age is the major part of the audience that would seem to oppose the argument. Those in opposition would argue that driving increases the child’s freedom and allows the parents more time to focus on pertinent issues. However, the author counters this argument by presenting the rhetoric choice of whether parents want to see their children receiving their diplomas alive or posthumously.

Conclusively the author’s general argument appears to be highly effective. This is because it is founded on strong points and supporting evidence. The author has been able to convincingly argue that under-age driving is dangerous and there is no way to circumvent the issue but to raise the minimum age of driving. By raising the age, the youths are more mature and better able to follow road rules and drive more carefully than at a tender age characterized by childish adrenaline. This, rather than fallacious rules that have no impact, will save more young lives than the country is currently losing. The author poses the choice to the parents, whether they need their children to graduate themselves or to continue collecting posthumous diplomas.

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