Even though I learnt to drive the moment I turned seventeen I’m amazed that this age limit has remained intact. Both statistics and sensationalist headlines suggest that seventeen-year old drivers are far and away the biggest menace facing society, and we all know how keen politicians love to stick the boot into drivers.
The knee-jerk reaction is to say we should increase the age it which you can learn to drive, but what if we started teaching kids to drive at an earlier age? Get them to understand the principles of car control when they’re young and then, when they’re legally old enough to learn to drive on public roads, they can spend more time learning about the rules of the road rather than practising clutch control and three-point turns.
This is the thinking behind the Seat Young Drivers program. It’s a radical new idea that’s been put into action by Seat and Admiral car insurance, and places eleven-year olds behind the wheel of Ibizas on a closed off circuit. They get to learn the basics of car control in a safe environment at an age where they’re keen to learn and are free of the usual peer pressures.
There’s scientific evidence to back up the theory too. A Swedish study followed two groups of new drivers, one that was given early driving tuition at a younger age and a second that learnt in the normal way. The group that learnt to drive early went on to experience a 45% reduction in their accident rates over the first two years driving. That’s a huge reduction, even more so when you consider that 17 to 24 year old drivers are the group most at risk of having a fatal accident.
Personally I think this is a great scheme and hope it proves to be a success. If you’re still too young to learn to drive then tell your parents to visit the Young Driver website, or if you’re a parent then consider it for your kids – without wanting to sound overly dramatic, it might actually save their life.