i Editor's Letter: Should we raise the driving age to 18?


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What did you find hardest about learning to drive? Should the minimum age for taking a test be lifted to 18, with a further year “on probation” after passing, including a ban on night driving and on carrying passengers under the age of 30? That’s the proposal being mooted by the Government, in the hope of cutting the death toll on Britain’s roads. I’d like to hear from 16- and 17-year-olds, as well as older i readers.

I benefited from failing my driving test when I was 17. Sixty seconds after leaving the test centre I nervously stamped on the brake pedal at an amber light without looking in my rear-view mirror. Messing it up should not have come as a surprise. After all, my best manoeuvre was emergency braking – I enjoyed trying to get instructor Bob’s forehead to touch the glovebox.

My mum probably had the right idea all along, refusing, when I was 16, to let me a buy a car in readiness. (I spited her by spending my savings instead on a drum kit and a lads’ holiday to Gran Canaria.)

The potential benefit of delaying driving is obvious: under-25s are disproportionately involved in serious road accidents. Certainly, by the time I passed my test two years ago – in the teeming London traffic – I was more relaxed and confident, although it’s worth bearing in mind that I had already taken those tentative first bunny-hops around the B&Q car park during my teens.

But I’m yet to be convinced that raising the age would work on its own. The real problem remains the varying quality of tuition. More supervised driving makes sense, but alongside obligatory advanced driving courses. I know several “Mad Max” older motorists who might benefit.


Twitter.com: @olyduff