Saturday, November 14, 2009

12 arguments against raising the driving age

(re-posted in light of today's news.)

1/ Statistics for young drivers are improving:

In 1986 15 and 16 year-old drivers were involved in 32 fatal accidents and 884 serious crashes.

In 2006 15 and 16 year-old drivers were involved in 16 fatal accidents and 122 serious crashes.

In 1986 15-19 year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes numbered 167 and made up 16.9 % of all crashes.

In 2006 15-19 year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes numbered 64 and made up 11.7 % of all crashes.

2/ The law is being changed by people who enjoyed a privilege they are now seeking to remove, despite their generation’s performance having been demonstrably worse.

3/ Arguments that New Zealand is out of step with the rest of the world are irrelevant;

- We have been out of step for decades yet only now it has become a problem?
- If international standards are an important consideration then why aren’t we raising the age to 18, common in most European countries?

4/ Putting the driving age up does not send the right message to young people. If we want to encourage a culture of personal responsibility and independence this move is counter-productive.

5/ Often it is parents who dictate when their child will learn to drive. They are a better judge than the government.

6/ New Zealand’s road deaths per 100,000 in 2005 were 9.9, just above the OECD median of 9.5. Many OECD countries have a higher road toll rates and higher legal driving ages;
Age deaths per 100,000 in 2005
Poland 17 14.3
Belgium 18 10.4
Portugal 18 11.8
Spain 18 10.2
Czech Republic 17 12.6
Slovakia 18 11.1 (2004)
South Korea 18 10.2
Greece 17 15.0
Hungary 18 12.7
USA 16 14.7

7/ Across Australia the minimum driving ages are;

Minimum driving age:
New South Wales - 17 yrs 7.5
South Australia - 16 yrs 9.6
Victoria - 18 yrs 6.9
Queensland - 17 yrs 8.3
Northern Territory - 17 yrs 27.0
Tasmania - 17 yrs 10.5
Western Australia - 17 yrs 8.1

Obviously there are a range of ages all above 15 with a broad range of results

8/ If this move is successful, when will the calls to raise it higher begin?

9/ The Labour government liberalised rules pertaining to aged driver licensing by removing compulsory tests for 80+ drivers despite their over-representation in road crashes. It would be inconsistent to tighten rules relating to young drivers under the same premise.

10/ Responsible 15 and 16 year-olds will be penalised because of irresponsible 15 and 16 year-olds

11/ Irresponsible 15 and 16 year-olds already break the law by carrying passengers they are not licensed to carry or by travelling with drivers not licensed to carry them. If the driving age is raised they are likely to continue to ignore the law. The result will be more drivers on the road who have no knowledge of road rules or who have not experienced any driver training.

12/ Experience and driver education are vital. The first cannot be gained by delaying the starting age. A lot could be achieved with more of the second.


Andrei said...

Amen Lindsay.

The earlier you acquire any skill the more proficient you will be in later life - which should be obvious, how many top notch concert pianists took up the instrument in adulthood do you suppose?

I was driving at 12, licensed at 15 and have thus far survived without serious incident.

Alas in an imperfect world there are people who never develop common sense, even as they approach senility and shit happens - even to the most diligent of us. So no amount of fiddling will ever eliminate road accidents

Sus said...

Most informative, thanks.

Anonymous said...

There is one overwhelming reason FOR raising the driving age.

It is neuroscience - or developmental brain research - that has been happening for about the last 10 years. It has been found that teenagers brains have simply not finished physically developing.

In particular, in the area of making simple judgements about safe or dangerous activities, teenagers use a different part of the brain than adults.

Adults can make an automatic, instant judgement. However for teenagers, "What we found is they actually use their frontal cortex, the cognitive part of their brains. They are actually trying to think about this. They are trying to reason about this and it is not automatic. It is very labored for them." Abigail Baird

The implications for driving are obvious. No matter how emotionally mature a 15 year old is, thier brain is still physically immature and the only thing to be done about it is to wait for them to age.



Andrei said...

The human brain doesn't finish developing until about the age of 25.

Is that when we should get our licenses?

Of course the developing brain is primed for learning and the ability to learn new things start to decline from age 25 - so you could argue that we shouldn't allow the over 25s who haven't yet obtained a license to get one.

But that would be absurd.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Andrei, based on the research, you could make a case for age 25.

17 or 18, like almost all the countries in Lindsay's list, seems like a pragmatic compromise.



Paul said...

education is key no matter what age.

we liked the

Shane Pleasance said...

My son is fifteen, and is absurdly acutely aware of his potential shortcomings behind the wheel (sometimes he is liking having my dad along instead of my son). I suspect he will be safe and enjoy his driving. My daughter, thirteen next month, will be a terrible driver, and acknowledges this.

We all acknowledge that getting into a car is probably the single most dangerous thing we do.

Shane Pleasance said...

Very informative, BTW, thank you Lindsay.

Anonymous said...

There is one overwhelming reason FOR raising the driving age... It is neuroscience - or developmental brain research ... teenagers brains have simply not finished physically developing.

Lindsay's stats show that this is simply not justified - on the basis of any data - for driving age.
If NZ's 18 year olds could not drive, NZ's accident rates would be much higher than they are. The data show this is not a problem. But then you probably went to a state school - the idea of mathematics is just yet more white male Tory oppression!

However, looking at the voting intentions, particularly Labour and Green , of the under 25s I think this is an absolute argument to raise the voting age to at least 25.

Oswald Bastable said...

I would be interested to know how many of those involved in injury or death incidents are licenced and operating under the conditions of their licenses.

Anonymous said...

I have always believed those foolish young motorists who drive like demons and kill themselves only make the roads safer for the rest of us.

That cant be a bad thing can it?


brian_smaller said...

We are moving to a place 35km from the nearest city and the place where the kids are at high school. I was looking forward to the kids being able to drive themselves to school.

Oswald Bastable said...

Dirk- I tend to agree.

Trouble is, they have a bad habit of slamming into some innocent party.

Happened to me- of course Mr young, dumb & pissed didn't get a scratch...

conrad said...

Thank you Lindsay for a very well reasoned and sensible list.

Of course it will be completely ignored by politicians wanting to appear in the media as doing something, anything, regardless of how ineffective it is, to reduce road accidents.

zoeanator said...

This is so true, i totally agree, im 13 and my mum sometimes lets me drive up and down the driveway and down the street, only because she trusts me, if i was imature and irresponsible then she wouldnt let me, simple as that the driving age should NOT be raised as its not so much the age as its more the maturity of the teenager.
P.s great information, your parents certainly know you more than the stupid government.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put lindsay! 18 is too old! Kids are in college at that point and its very inconvenient. they need to start learning earlier and be independent.

Anonymous said...

what's going to happen when these teens reach 18 and start drinking??? this 'road safty' conscious government is effectively reducing the number of legal sober drivers this generation is going to have available to them... they aren't going to stop drinking just coz' they ain't got a driver.

Anonymous said...

I live out on a farm and am waiting to get my licence so I will be able to drive to the city to work and see my mates withput my parents having to drive me

Anonymous said...

That was helpfull, thanks. I was doing an essay about this topic, but you guys never mentioned parents in this caase. What is the parents part in this case?

Lindsay Mitchell said...

5/ Often it is parents who dictate when their child will learn to drive. They are a better judge than the government.

If the parent thinks 15 is too young they will (because getting a licence usually involves practical and financial parental assistance) prevent it from happening. Therefore there is no need to legislate the age higher.

Hannah said...

I don't care if you are 16 or 60, if you don't know how to drive your going to wreck, no matter what age. I know for a fact that if you have never driven a car before, the first few times you get behind the wheel you are more likely to wreck. Also, if you raise the driving age to 18, the teenagers will have to find other means of getting to school, work ect... and their parents can't drive them around forever. If they raise the driving age to 18, then all they are going to do is make 18 the age group with the highest accident rate. What they should do is make the driving tests more in depth, and put curfews and rules on when and where a teenager can drive (between certain hours, and after curfew only in emergencies and not on freeways.) These will help lower the accident rates. But also, 16 is a big birthday for teenagers. It is when they get accepted into society and getting their license/temps is a very important time for them. If they raise the age, then you are taking away this important thing from those who have waited for it.

I think that raising the driving age is like putting a band-aid on a slit wrist. You may think you are helping, but all you are doing is delaying the inevitable. (The slit wrist being the teen driver, band-aid being raising the driving age and the inevitable being crashes.) And i'm pretty sure we all know that a band-aid won't fix a slit wrist.

Anonymous said...

All these coments helps me so much with my project. Thank you!

I also found that if a 15-16 year old can start driving at that age, and wil be able to drop itself of somewere for two extra years, it will reduse the gas and petrol use of sooooo many cars! It will make life atleast at bit more heathy and clean. AND then you save a fiew liters of petrol! And belive me! I will make a diffrence