The minimum age varies from state to state and is 16 in most US states but in fact you can get a driver’s license as young as 14 years and 3 months in South Dakota!
In the US they have a driver’s education program in their High Schools which seems to give students a very good training in driving skills and safety.
Perhaps the introduction of a similar system in Ireland is something that students and teachers could campaign for?
I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my mid twenties as I lived in Dublin during my degree and PhD and cycled to College or got the bus. When I moved back to Galway I had to drive to work so I had to learn properly. I might even have found the test easier to pass (I failed my first test) if I had learned earlier by attending a program like they have in the US.
I still don’t know how to drive
*hangs head in shame
It may also have something to do with the need to drive. Ireland is much more densely populated that America (73.4/square km versus 33.7/square km). Students that live in urban areas in the US probably do not learn to drive as young as those who live far from their schools or colleges. If a public transport systems is a bit lacking or dangerous it might be preferable for a student to learn to drive so they can get to school or work easier.
Here in Ireland those in the country side have dedicated school buses to bring them to school, I’m sure many places in the US do too but circumstances may be different.