The Paua Palace

My royal blog, life, opinions and me, it’s all about ME.. Right?

Raising the driving age

Posted by pauaprincess on September 16, 2007

There were a couple of stories in the weekend Herald about teen drivers. 

Transport Minister Annette King (coincidently Police Minister as well) is looking at polling parliament to raise the minimum age to attain a drivers licence.  Now back in the mists of time, when we lowered the minimum age for drinking to 18, I was a supporter.  Hell I thought that people who can work, enter into contracts,drive, vote, get married and go to war to fight for their country, should get to have a beer in the pub after doing all that or even some of it!  I mean you spend the day fighting for your country, you’re going to want a cold frosty one to mellow down.

8 years ago I was closer to 20 than 40 and my children were much younger.  In a scant 4 years, if nothing alters, the Princeling will be old enough to ‘go for his learners permit’.  8 odd years later, having seen the results first hand, I am wondering why on earth I thought 18 yr olds were even close to adults?  Not only shouldn’t they drink, but they shouldn’t enter into contracts, vote, get married or go to war!  Judging by the party currently raging up the road, they shouldn’t even be allowed out after 8pm.

My gut reaction to lowering the age of drivers was my typical, anti authority… Oh get a life!  But I’ve thought about it a bit more now.  At 15 we allow our teens to start the process of obtaining a licence to operate a motor vehicle.  15!  Just cos they are big enough to reach the peddles and we are sick of carting them everywhere.  15 year olds can’t obtain a firearms licence, if a 15 yr old is too young to own a gun why can they own a car?  Even on a weekend where two people were shot to death, cars killed more people than guns!  A 15 year old isn’t criminally responsible for crimes they commit, if they attend youth court they are too young to drive in my opinion.

When I think back to being 15, quite frankly it scares me, the things I used to do.  Not only did I drive, I rode horses without a helmet, I copied what the cool kids did and I made almost all my decisions using the do I want to do it meter rather than the should I do it meter. 

I honestly believe I didn’t really begin to consider risk to my personal safety let alone that of others, as part of my decision making process until I had children of my own.  The first time I went riding after the Princeling was born, I looked down at the ground from the back of the horse and thought, “shit that’s a long way down, I could hurt myself or worse and who would take care of the baby?”  The kids aren’t babies now, but I still want them to have a mother. 

The other article was about why teen drivers lack the safety instinct, the curb that prevents them failing to stop for Police etc.  The first 6 months of unsupervised driving are the highest danger period apparently.  The worst part, is that the real risk assessment skills we develop don’t actually kick in until around 25.  Which would be around the time I realised I was a mother and had to stay alive for my children.

Personally, I think the only way to really make young drivers take more care, is to make the consequences of their actions count, forget expensive fines, they don’t pay them.  If they get paid it’s parents that pay.  No make it count by extending their probationary period, imagine having the restricted period extended by six months if you are caught with passengers?  If you are caught with passengers again, you have to go back and go through the learner period again.  If you break that rule, they take the car and impound it for 28 days.  Perhaps in addition, they have to go out scoping with cops for a weekend.  Maybe even clean out the detox cells after a Friday/Saturday night.  Put them to work and let them see where they’ll end up, make them help out at the Mortuary!

There has to be a way, to make the younger drivers, responsible for more than just killing people.


One Response to “Raising the driving age”

  1. panoramia said

    Your point, accountability (responsibility for own actions) is a good one … a paraplegic Olymian killed by a 15-year-old (cw illegal passengers, of course) some other bugger taken out by another 15-year-old … is there a pattern here?
    You’ve nailed it, why can’t our “leaders” see it too? Recently we had the loonies (currently the Greenies) bleating to lower the age for voting to sixteen — is there a connection, do you think?

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