Proposed Laws to Cut Teenage Car Accidents WILL NOT WORK

Recently, there has been much talk of implementing new laws for young drivers in an attempt to reduce the number of people killed on Britain’s roads. On first glance, this would seem […]

Recently, there has been much talk of implementing new laws for young drivers in an attempt to reduce the number of people killed on Britain’s roads. On first glance, this would seem like a good thing. The only problem is that the proposed laws are completely stupid.

There are two new laws that are being considered. The first is that young drivers should be limited in the number of passengers they can carry in a car, or be restricted to only carrying family members as passengers. The second is a ban on young drivers from driving between the hours of 11pm and 4am unless they are driving to or from work.

There is definitely a need for something to be done about road casualties amongst young drivers. Currently, just one in eight drivers is under the age of 25, yet they still account for a third of deaths on Britain’s roads.

In 2011, there were 17,000 crashes involving drivers between 17 and 19 years old, and more than half of these resulted in serious or fatal injuries. Additionally, an 18-year-old driver is statistically three times more likely to be involved in a crash than someone 30 years older.

Clearly then, this is a problem. Most young drivers aren’t as bad as the statistics suggest – it’s a minority group. Also, the statistics don’t specify whether these crashes were actually the fault of the young driver. Many of these crashes could have been caused as a result of another driver or the road conditions; it’s just that a young person happened to be involved. Despite this, it cannot be denied that the figures show young drivers are “at risk”.

However helpful these laws might first appear, they will be extremely difficult to enforce. The police are extremely busy; do we really expect them to be pulling young drivers over all the time to check if they’ve a mate in the car? Even then, the driver could easily claim that it’s their brother or sister. Unless the police start using roadside DNA tests, this is going to be quite difficult to dispute. Additionally, if a young driver is stopped by police for driving in the curfew period, they could simply say that they have just been at work.

Obviously these excuses wouldn’t work if the driver had a car full of pissed up friends, but surely the fact that young drivers would have to be alone in the car to get away with driving at this time would only encourage them to drink drive, rather than having one designated driver who stays sober and transports the whole group around.

These laws will unfairly punish the majority of young people who are good, considerate drivers. It’s already hard enough for young people to drive, due to extortionate insurance costs, and combined with the rising price of petrol it means that many young people can’t actually afford to get on the road in the first place. Being able to drive is a rite of passage for most young people, yet it’s constantly being made harder for us to do so.

It all comes down to experience and attitude. Young people have accidents because they are inexperienced and more likely to take risks. So why not give them that experience? Surely a better option would be to allow young people to learn to drive earlier, at 15 or 16. That way, by the time they pass their test they will have had at least a year of driving experience.

We could also introduce logbooks of skills covered during training, so that learner drivers have to have had experience driving in various different scenarios before being allowed to take the test. Again, changing attitudes is all about education.

Young people need to be taught how the way they drive can affect others and to appreciate how dangerous cars can be. Surely it would be better to have a nation of young, well educated and skilled drivers, than one where the only legal trip a teenager can drive in a car is dropping their brother or sister off at an after school club. Which they wouldn’t be able to do in the winter anyway. Because it would be dark.