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Should 16-year olds be allowed to drive?
A new law has just come into effect allowing 16-year-olds to drive quadricycles. The new European ‘AM’ category is for ultra-lightweight cars (less than 350kg) with a top speed limited to 28mph.
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The case for 16-year-old drivers
By Chris Rees, MSN Cars contributor:
“I’ve got three kids. My daughter has passed her driving test, but my twin boys have yet to pass theirs. So am I in favour of 16-year-olds being able to drive? Absolutely.
“Let’s be clear here – we’re not talking about kids being let loose on powerful cars. The new law is about 16-year-old adults gaining the right to drive a special class of car that’s limited to a top speed of 28mph.
“This new class of car may be new to the UK, but it’s been around in other EU countries for decades. In fact, in France and Italy they allow drivers as young as 14 to get behind the wheel of cars like this, and we don’t see a huge debate about this over there.
“Of course, 16-year-olds do already drive on our roads. Sadly, thus far they’ve been restricted to extremely dangerous mopeds – almost certainly the main reason why statistics show a sudden spike in deaths among 16-year-old males.
I’d far rather have my children drive one of these quadricycles than a moped
“I’d far rather have my children drive one of these quadricycles than a moped – they’re clearly much safer. Four wheels are just much more stable than two, and the Renault Twizy, for instance, comes with a full roll-over cage and an airbag as standard.
“Are 16-year-old drivers of low-powered cars really going to present more dangers than 16-year old motorcyclists? I doubt it.
“Are 16-year-olds reckless yobbos intent on demonising our roads? Of course not.
“There are lots of positive reasons to celebrate the fact that 16-year-olds can now drive quadricycles. Some young people are forced give up further education because they don’t have access to transport; others are prevented from taking jobs for the same reason. This new class of cars could be a real lifeline.
“I like the idea of my kids being more independent – and selfishly speaking, I quite like the idea of not having to ferry them around, too.
“If we want our young adults – and remember, 16-year-olds are adults – to learn useful skills in life, there’s a real opportunity here to let them learn roadcraft at an earlier age, getting them used to roads and other traffic in a low-powered vehicle before they progress to a full-size car at 17.
“Yes, that 28mph speed limit might cause problems for other drivers on country roads, but these cars are really designed for urban environments where you’d be lucky to reach 28mph.
“In any case, I very much doubt that our roads are about to be infested with 16-year-olds driving quadricycles. The price of buying one (around £10,000 for an Aixam) and the cost of insurance (typically around £2,200 for a 16-year-old, according to insurance broker Bikesure) will always keep this type of motoring for a minority.
“And they’ll only be on the road for a year at most, when they’ll doubtless switch to a full-size car – as safer and more mature drivers.”
The case against 16-year-old drivers
By Neil Greig, director of policy & research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM):
“I have some serious concerns about this new development, which has seemingly come from nowhere.
“Research shows that young men at 16 are inherently dangerous. They don’t know enough about road safety. I don’t think that the argument about gaining roadcraft experience holds, because 16-year olds are less open to learning, and there’s no requirement for any other adult or instructor to be in the vehicle.
“The 16-year-old will be required to take a CBT test before being allowed to drive, but the IAM has concerns about the CBT test. The course is only half a day and is meant as an introduction only. At present there is no requirement for further training, and the fear is that after a half a day, 16-year-olds will be driving solo with no extra training, never having had to pass a proper test.
Why are we allowing these vehicles on our roads now, when we have such good road safety
“There’s a risk with drivers with so little experience being on the roads. The IAM definitely recommends going beyond CBT, but as far as I’m aware, no courses exist to learn about driving quadricycles. The IAM does offer a moped course, but it has very little take-up.
“Yes, these quadricycles are marginally safer than mopeds but they’re not built to the same safety standards as cars. There’s an argument that these vehicles simply provide a bigger vehicle for youngsters to misbehave and make mistakes in.
“And while they’re limited to a top speed of 28mph, will youngsters find a way of tampering with the mechanicals to obtain more performance – as they often do with mopeds?
“We have no experience of these cars in the UK, and the low speeds these cars run at could cause issues for other drivers.
“I’m also concerned that quadricycles can also carry passengers, and there’s strong evidence to show that the more young people you have in a car, the greater the danger. It’s a recipe for disaster.
“Why are we allowing these vehicles on our roads now, when we have such good road safety?
“My advice to parents would be to wait until their children are 17, when they’re old enough to drive a full-size car.”
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NO NO NO Absoluetly NOT
Most kids at the age of 17 are not sensible, why the hell dya think their insurance is so high.
Statistics speak for themselves.
And these damn things are death traps, causing impatience in other drivers leading to more accidents..
18 minimum age and probationary period for 5 years with a two strikes eg speeding, using mobile phone, etc and you resit the entire test.
No, wait until they are an adult and CAN AFFORD A BLOODY CAR!
Ridiculous, they should be riding cycles and getting public transport. Driving would only heap more pressure on them. Being 25 I have a fair say on this!
They should have the rules of the road drilled into them though, society is bad enough at driving as it is.
IAM asked me to be an observer for the company... so I've seen some HORRENDOUS mistakes on the roads. And to be honest, MANY weren't young. So the education of 16 year olds about the rules of the road should be drilled into them so they don't make the mistakes of others!
As for real cars there need to be srtict size and power restrictions for learner car drivers, similar to those on motorcyclists. Lets say 999cc and 50kW up to 21 for test 1 then 1499cc and 75kW for test one if over 21. Test 2 for a vehicle 100kW and 1500cc to 2499cc then test 3 and over 29 for anything bigger. Reckon that will cut much of the mayhem on the road.
Personally I think this is a con by car manufacturers and the DVLA, how much will these cars cost? A parent will be expected to buy one for one year then buy a "proper car" a year later.
The DVLA will no doubt introduce a two tier test which will cost more in the long run.
28mph may sound great on paper but in rural parts of the world this doubles your journey times. If you think driving behind a tractor is bad imagine one of these for an hour to cover the 30 miles into work!
I'm not going to argue the pros and cons of 16 year olds driving, every teenager is different. I was too mature for my own good, many aren't. Many drivers in their 50s and 60s are as rude and dangerous as any 16 year old. However I think this proposal is driven by pure greed.
Using a Quadricycle on a CBT........ Its a fecking car for godsake, just a rather lightweight one.
If they want to drive it they SHOULD pass the proper driving licence test which is a theory test, hazard perception followed by the 45minute practical.
Then it also should be made law to wear the Green 'P' plate, just like the red 'L' plate for motorbike under a 125cc.
Being limited to 28mph, I'm betting you after a while they will have it "derestricted", just to get that extra 1bhp and 4mph.
The Law will still require a 16-year-old to qualify for a Moped Rider licence, so the applicant will still be obliged to acquire the necessary roadcraft skills. You can't "fall off" four wheels so there is that improvement over a moped for worried parents. My GP refers to all 2-wheeled riders as "Organ Donors".
Ideally all schoolchildren should receive some kind of instruction in the Highway Code etc., as part of the normal school curriculum.
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