Friday, 11 October 2013

18 years of age : old enough to vote and die but certainly not to drive

The United Kingdom  government  -  which these days doesn't very much like many of the citizens it is supposed to serve - is thinking of not allowing young adults to drive until they are 18 or 19 years old and even then they may not be allowed to hold a full licence. Government ministers are due to publish their proposals in a Green Paper following a report by the Transport Research Laboratory.

Of course everyone wants to see a reduction in the number of road accidents with their potential for destroying lives and this should be addressed by looking again at the way driving is taught. Nonetheless questions of  equal rights and equal privilege are raised when a government declares an intention to withdraw a privilege from a certain section of our citizenry. This appears to be what is happening with the proposal to prevent 18 years old adults holding a full driving licence. Should the voices of these adults be heard before any legislation is prepared ?

I imagination these are the same 18 years old adults who are old enough to vote, who for two years have been old enough to get married and who are old enough to be killed when serving in the United Kingdom armed forces. 

Apparently the statistics show that the plan to ensure young adults are well and truly off the road is valid and reasonable. Did you know that drivers between 17 years old and 24 years old cause 20% of the serious accidents on our roads ? The rest of us cause the other 80%  so we'd better watch out or the government may catch on to that. I'd be devastated if I wasn't allowed a driving licence until I was 69. Still maybe it would really be fair enough -  since the likes of me have been causing 4 out of 5 of all road accidents. 

Finally, a message to young adults :  I would warn you not to protest about these proposals. You know what happened when those badgers moved the goal posts.


No driving licence until 19?  Richard Wescott, BBC on 10.10.13 at
 Driving test age rise considered for teenagers, BBC 11.10.13 at 


John Stein writes :

I read with dismay your piece on driving licenses for young people.  My personal experience here in Louisiana, where kids were able to get learners permits at the age of 15 (they require a licensed driver in the car), was that kids who started driving earlier learned to be responsible, while kids whose parents didn't let them get a license until later, like the age of 18, went right out and had an accident very soon after getting their license. 
I'm not convinced that waiting helps.  I think teaching responsibility and safe driving is the better way to go.  The younger they are, the more likely they are to learn.  At 15 (they could get a full license at 16), it is a REAL privilege.  Only a few years later, it becomes a right.
But, just my opinion from a different place and a different time...

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