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Raise the minimum driving age to 18 (or 21)

Comment 2nd July 2010

Raise the minimum age of driving test applicants to 18, or 21. Make them sit two tests – an oral one lasting 30 minutes based on the highway code, and then the actual driving test itself – before they can be considered fully conversant with the rules of the road.  

Why does this matter?

There are too many irresponsible drivers on our roads today – some of them are young drivers who have just recently passed their tests. The fact remains that a fair proportion of road accidents are indeed caused by young inexperienced drivers who have only just passed their tests. This places an unnecessary burden on our already vastly overcrowded roads.

The debate that has always raged over time is whether it is the older or younger drivers who cause the most accidents on the roads, or whether it is the older or younger drivers who are the least responsible. The general consensus would point to the LEAST experienced users – those 17 year olds who have only just passed their driving tests. Of course we all know about the scourge of the testosterone-fuelled boy-racers who, sometimes underaged, tear through neighbourhoods creating nothing but menace and danger to other road users. Increasing the age to 18 or 21 would at least mean they would be more mature before they could get behind the wheel of a car.

Britain is suffering from extreme gridlock due to the sheer number of vehicles on our roads – not to mention the fact that councils up and down the country are actually making it more difficult for private car owners to get from place to place due to an almost fanatical obsession with narrowing roads, and reducing lanes, creating cycle paths, bus lanes, other spuriously expensive 'highway / corridor management / enhancement schemes' which invariably involve lots of new railings, street furniture and wasteful widening of pavements in urban areas to restrict further access by car users.

A reduction in the number of new drivers on our roads each year – as a direct result of increasing their minimum age – would go some way towards addressing this congestion problem, in that we would subsequently have a million less new drivers on the roads at the same time each year, say. That to me, makes perfect sense and is the most practical solution in terms of dealing with the ever increasing numbers of drivers on our roads today.  Furthermore, there would also be a lot less road accident statistics into the bargain – result: our roads will be safer overall too. 

This may sound like a draconian proposal, but there must be countries elsewhere in the world where the minimum age for driving cars is a bit higher than 17.

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