Raise the driving age, or enforce insurance premiums?

Raise the driving age, or enforce insurance premiums?

Fueled by a number of high profile accidents involving speeding young people in allegedly modified cars, there’s an emotional push to raise the driving age and enforce compulsory third-party insurance. I grew up in England. You have to be 17 to drive, and third-party insurance is compulsory. One I wholeheartedly agree with, and the other I think is a great idea but in reality wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference – it may even make it worse. Raising the driving age to 16 (or maybe 17) is the best idea for this country. The majority of kids don’t leave school at 15 and therefore have no need to drive to work. Once they leave school, we should not disadvantage those who live in areas where New Zealand’s notoriously bad public transport system is even worse than usual. So, 16 it is. In the UK it’s virtually impossible to have a powerful car when you’re under 25. The insurance grouping system assigns a number based on the car’s performance, cost to repair when damaged, availability of parts, how long it usually takes to repair that car, the level of security and its value. A one-litre car with less than, say, 75kW would be perhaps group 6 and would be mostly affordable. A 2.5-litre Impreza Sportswagon (not even an STI) is in group 19…one less than a Ferrari 430. The insurance industry wants to use enforcement measures to ensure everyone pays. Well, duh! Of course they do, because they’ll be making far more profit. I doubt we’ll see a reduction in our premiums just because an extra couple of hundred thousand people are insured – accidents still need to be paid for and if everyone has insurance the insurance companies will be footing the whole bill themselves as opposed to being able to recoup cash from uninsured drivers. As a person who has had comprehensive insurance for 95% of my driving life, I personally think insurance is a great idea – it’s peace of mind in an accident. If I’m judged to have whacked the Lexus (whether I actually did it or not), all I’m up for is the excess and not potentially tens of thousands of dollars. But, I don’t think it’s the answer to the problem. People who like to drive dangerously will drive dangerously whether it’s an old 1.3-litre Starlet, or a highly modified turbo car which probably handles better and is safer than a cheaper, less powerful car. In fact, if we force younger people into cheaper cars, the crash rate may increase because the cars’ capabilities are less. As in all great scientific experiments, we should probably only change one factor at once and evaluate how that affects the situation. My vote is to raise the driving age to 16 or 17 and nothing more for the moment.

Fueled by a number of high profile accidents involving speeding young people in allegedly modified cars, there’s an emotional push to raise the driving age and enforce compulsory third-party insurance. I grew up in England. You have to be 17 to drive, and third-party insurance is compulsory. One I wholeheartedly agree with, and the other I think is a great idea but in reality wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference – it may even make it worse. Raising the driving age to 16 (or maybe 17) is the best idea for this country. The majority of kids don’t leave school at 15 and therefore have no need to drive to work. Once they leave school, we should not disadvantage those who live in areas where New Zealand’s notoriously bad public transport system is even worse than usual. So, 16 it is. In the UK it’s virtually impossible to have a powerful car when you’re under 25. The insurance grouping system assigns a number based on the car’s performance, cost to repair when damaged, availability of parts, how long it usually takes to repair that car, the level of security and its value. A one-litre car with less than, say, 75kW would be perhaps group 6 and would be mostly affordable. A 2.5-litre Impreza Sportswagon (not even an STI) is in group 19…one less than a Ferrari 430. The insurance industry wants to use enforcement measures to ensure everyone pays. Well, duh! Of course they do, because they’ll be making far more profit. I doubt we’ll see a reduction in our premiums just because an extra couple of hundred thousand people are insured – accidents still need to be paid for and if everyone has insurance the insurance companies will be footing the whole bill themselves as opposed to being able to recoup cash from uninsured drivers. As a person who has had comprehensive insurance for 95% of my driving life, I personally think insurance is a great idea – it’s peace of mind in an accident. If I’m judged to have whacked the Lexus (whether I actually did it or not), all I’m up for is the excess and not potentially tens of thousands of dollars. But, I don’t think it’s the answer to the problem. People who like to drive dangerously will drive dangerously whether it’s an old 1.3-litre Starlet, or a highly modified turbo car which probably handles better and is safer than a cheaper, less powerful car. In fact, if we force younger people into cheaper cars, the crash rate may increase because the cars’ capabilities are less. As in all great scientific experiments, we should probably only change one factor at once and evaluate how that affects the situation. My vote is to raise the driving age to 16 or 17 and nothing more for the moment.

« | »

Let us know what you think

Loading Facebook Comments ...

Road Tests

Silver Sponsors

Car and SUV Team

Richard-Edwards-2016Richard Edwards

Managing editor

linkedinphotoDarren Cottingham

Motoring writer

robertbarry-headRobert Barry

Chief reporter

Ian-Ferguson-6Ian Ferguson

Advertising Consultant

debDeborah Baxter

Operations Manager

RSS Latest News from Autotalk

RSS Latest News from Dieseltalk

Read previous post:
Audi TT 2007 – road test

At the risk of copping an enormous amount of flak, the Audi TT is like Alanis Morissette’s second album, Supposed...

Close