Here’s news to make young drivers quake in their boots – a new report has recommended raising the legal driving age from 17 to 18. Just think, those days of piling into your mate’s D-reg Cinquecento to spend free periods at McDonalds could become a thing of the past. The horror. The horror.
More seriously riling though, are proposals for a year-long “probationary period” imposing a 10pm-5am curfew on young drivers, as well as a ban on any passengers under 30.
Learning to drive will be fresh in many of our memories as an expensive and (as far as parallel parking is concerned) stressful experience. These measures beg the question, what’s the point in enduring that only to face such severe restrictions? Forbidding people from driving at certain hours with certain passengers devalues being able to drive in the first place; for anyone needing to work nights or share lifts it would render a license practically useless.
There’s no denying that accident rates are dramatically skewed towards younger drivers, and any measures to reduce this should be encouraged. Adding car safety to the curriculum, lowering alcohol limits and introducing night-driving in lessons would be effective. After all, there’s no point being able to execute the perfect hill-start if you end up wrapped around a lamp post days after your test.
Nevertheless, it seems strange to punish the majority for the recklessness of a minority. Young drivers might be more likely to have accidents, but it only takes five minutes on the road to realise dangerous drivers come at all ages.
Surely it’s best to focus more on equipping young drivers to be responsible before their tests. Then, once they’re road-safe, entrusting them with nothing less than a full license. How else are the poor mites supposed to get their daily Egg McMuffin fix?