26 January 2015

Some people want the driving age raised to 18, 21 or even 24!

Like most young people we know, are you someone who can’t wait to get behind the wheel, seeing learning to drive as the gateway to freedom and independence? We completely agree that being able to drive is a lifetime skill that will open up so many things for you. Here in the UK, ever since 1903 when most vehicles on the roads were horse-drawn, the youngest age at which a person can apply for a provisional driving license is still just under 17, when you can book lessons and start working towards your theory and practical tests.

Some want the age increased but surveys show split opinions

Over the last two or even three decades, lots of voices from various parts of society have campaigned for the minimum driving age to be increased to at least 18, with some people even saying men and women should have to wait until they have turned 21 before being allowed behind the wheel.

BCA conducted a survey earlier this year and around 17% of the respondents said the minimum driving age should be increased up to 21. Over half thought the age should stay at 17, though, so opinion is definitely divided.

Another survey by road safety charity Brake found that a quarter of young drivers aged 18 to 24 are involved in an accident in their first two years’ behind the wheel, which has led some to say the minimum driving age should be raised all the way to 24.

Careful Carrots

Carrot’s customers tend to be sensible drivers who love the fact that careful driving rewards them with vouchers, discounts and other goodies. Sadly, not all young or new drivers are as grown-up and each year sees a number of newbie drivers tragically killed up and down the country.

Teenage road deaths

In November, five teenagers were killed in a horrific crash near Doncaster, two 18-year-old men were killed when their car crashed in Bradford, three teenagers were killed in a crash in Hampshire and two teenagers were killed in Inverclyde when their car crashed into a tree. Yes, these are just some of the stories to have made the headlines in that month alone.

Possible solutions

Many commentators say that solutions include educating young drivers better, lengthening the amount of tuition, introducing graduated driving licenses, banning driving at night for a certain number of years, changing the law so new, young drivers can only carry one passenger, and ensuring that an experienced adult accompanies them in the car for a specified period of time.

It does sound sensible to help new, young drivers to better understand safety and risks, hazards, safe driving techniques, laws surrounding mobile phones in the car, the stupidity of speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and the dangers of night driving and in the winter.

Dad’s taxi isn’t a 24/7 service and real taxi fares can cost a bomb, so public transport could certainly also do with improving if the minimum driving age does increase at any time in the near future – although such a change in the law still looks unlikely.

Carrot sees sense

At Carrot we don’t go with stereotypes as not all new, young drivers are giddy and reckless when they’re in control of a car. I’m sure we all know some adults in their 30s, 40s and older who don’t exactly drive safely or sensibly. Okay, not all young drivers will be insured by Carrot or a similar black box ‘telematics’ policy, so for such people, we like the sound of the monitoring solution some have suggested, where driving licenses are torn up if a young driver racks up six points within two years of passing his or her test.

Swedish safety champions

And yet another angle to throw into the debating ring is that modern cars are becoming much safer and Volvo, for example, is seeking to ensure that by 2020, none of its cars will be responsible for killing anyone. Driverless cars are also on the way.

Have your say

So what do you think – should the driving age stay as it is at 17, or does an increase to 18 or even 21 sound sensible? We’d love to hear your views, so get in touch via social media.

Oliver Hammond

Written by Oliver Hammond

Oliver is an established freelance motoring writer, published journalist and automotive copywriter based in Manchester. He regularly reviews cars and covers events and launches as editor of petroleumvitae.com and his articles appear in various magazines each month. No relation to Richard from Top Gear, he’s got a weakness for luxo-barges, proper 4x4s and oddball cars.