View Poll Results: At what age should young people be allowed to drive?

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  • 20

    3 9.09%
  • 18

    19 57.58%
  • 17

    7 21.21%
  • 15

    4 12.12%
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Thread: Is 15 too young to drive?

  1. #1
    MotherBear's Avatar
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    Default Is 15 too young to drive?

    15 too young to drive, says brain expert
    Friday September 29, 2006
    By Claire Trevett

    Teenage drivers could be getting their licence and climbing behind the wheel up to a decade before their brains are equal to the task. Dr Robert Isler, a senior lecturer in psychology at Waikato University, said yesterday that the frontal lobes of 15-year-olds' brains were not fully developed, and as a result many struggled to recognise and react to hazards and took extra risks.

    Dr Isler said New Zealand's driving age of 15 was out of step with other countries, where 17 or 18 was the norm. "I think it's much too young. We don't give them the vote until they are 18 because we think they are not ready to have good judgment. But we allow them to drive solo at 15 and we think they will make good decisions, but often they don't."

    That was because the frontal lobe - responsible for skills such as judgment, self-control and the ability to plan - did not fully develop until a person was 25. It could take a 15-year-old up to 30 per cent longer than an experienced driver to respond to problems on the road. For the first six months of driving unsupervised on a restricted licence, a 15-year-old was 19 times more at risk of a mishap than a 25- year-old with driving experience.

    "Young people learn car-control skills very quickly. Within 15 hours they can steer quite well. They get a higher sense of confidence than they should have and so they drive faster and it is not good for risk-taking behaviour."

    Dr Isler said he believed 17 was a more suitable age to learn to drive, with learners supervised for at least a year. Together with AA Driver Education Foundation, he is studying young drivers to see whether training helps with skills such as dealing with hazards.

    Professor Michael Corballis, of Auckland University's psychology department, agreed brain development could have some impact on a 15-year-old's ability to drive safely. "The frontal lobe does develop later relative to other parts of the brain, and is involved in things like judgment and social and executive skills - such as not being impetuous - and self-control. So 15-year-olds are capable of driving in terms of motor skills and vision, but whether they're capable of driving responsibly is the question."

    The study comes as debate continues over New Zealand's driving age. A Herald-DigiPoll survey in December showed respondents favoured raising the age from 15, with 52 per cent believing people should be 18 before driving and 27 per cent recommending 17.

    About 60,000 young people learn to drive each year, and Dr Isler said the study would test whether intensive training would reduce the risk.
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  2. #2
    Welshgirl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    Hmmm, bit of a tricky one this one..... I do agree that 15 is too young to drive, but I can see the reasoning in allowing it, what with this being an agriculatural country. I think 17 is just about old enough - it seems to work well in the UK - but I also think they should keep the restrictions in place that 15 year old drivers have here, if they ever did change the driving age to 17.

    So, I voted 17!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    I had no idea you could drive so young in NZ (so learnt something new today ?:D). ?I also agree that 15 sounds pretty young and I guess bearing in mind I've worked in brain injury services and seen how many young people end up there as a result of getting behind the wheel... I have voted for 18.

    I do have a question though... is there a different age for driving a moped or small engined motorbike... like in the UK it's 16??? I guess if it's an agricultural country and there's such a need for getting around maybe this would be a good alternative??? ?:-?
    Arrived in New Zealand on WHV on 5th Feb '08.

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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    My son is 15 and it scares the cr@p out of me that he can legally drive.  

    How may of you were lucky enough not to have a prang when you started driving?  I had two big ones, bad luck rather than bad judgement, but I also ended up in a ditch by mistaking a bend.  I don't bring babies into the world for them to end up hurt or dead at the wheel at 15!  

    Fortunately, our financial situation has made it easy for him to accept that he won't be driving his own car to school, but he is looking into the matter and hopes I will give him lessons in my car during the school summer holidays.   

    I know as a parent you have to let them grow up but 15 is way too young to drive and I've voted 18.  
    Glenda
    In NZ since June 2005
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    I voted 18 too. Having been a driving instructor, I know that a high amount of 17 year olds are not mature enough to drive safely, but any older than 18 can restrict people going on to university or starting work etc with not having the mobility. I would only say this applys to NZ though, as public transport isnt up to much, but in the UK the driving age should be more like 20.
    Taffy

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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    So much for that then! >:( . Personally I don't think most 15-year olds are responsible enough to consider the safety of others when they're driving. At that age fun, speed, excitement, peer pressure and pack mentality etc. are all much more important than getting from A to B in one piece. They just aren't willing to sacrifice this so that they and others can hope to avoid the trauma of severe injury and death.

    I would have thought a minibus or similar travelling around the country roads collecting youngsters for school or work would be adequate. It isn't a matter of not being able to fund it either. If they can afford to buy and run a car, I'm sure they can afford to contribute to the running costs of a minibus.

    Truly, having observed some youngsters of this age group, my blood runs cold at the thought of them behind the wheel of a potential killing machine. They are much too easily distracted by who and what is around them and how they can impress. Nothing else matters.  Add drink and drugs to that and it's a recipe for disaster.


    Government knocks down driving age review
    Saturday September 30, 2006
    By Michelle Coursey

    Teenage drivers are involved in almost 15 per cent of crashes which leave someone dead or seriously injured - but the Ministry of Transport says there are no plans to review the driving age.

    The Herald has been flooded with letters, most calling for lifting the age people are allowed to start driving. It comes after Dr Robert Isler, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Waikato, said the frontal lobes of a 15-year-old's brain were not developed enough to acquire the judgment skills to drive safely.

    Figures from the Ministry of Transport show that 15 to 19-year-old drivers were involved in 2540 crashes last year, 83 of which were fatal. Between 2003 and 2005, they were involved in 15 per cent of all crashes causing serious injury or death. They were also over-represented in the number of crashes occurring on weekends. Fifty-eight per cent of fatal crashes on Friday nights and 47 per cent of those on Saturday nights involved young drivers last year.

    AA Driver Education Foundation chief executive Peter Sheppard said the period of supervised driving for teenage learners needed to be increased, which would subsequently raise the age for restricted and full licence-holders to 16 or over. But Federated Farmers transport spokesman Andrew Gillanders said the organisation would oppose "with vigour" moves to raise the driving age.

    The families of teenagers attending schools some distance away, or who had to travel to part-time jobs, would be disadvantaged by raising the age.

    The ministry figures also show speed and alcohol are major factors in youth crashes, with teenagers 2 1/2 times more likely to crash because of speeding than drivers over the age of 25.

    Dr Isler said he believed that 17 was a more suitable age to learn to drive. In most Australian states, and in many European countries, that is the minimum age for being able to drive alone. A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said the department was aware of Dr Isler's comments, but there were no specific recommendations to change the driving age.
    Mother Bear

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    I rest my case.

    Young drivers caught in review headlights
    30 September 2006
    By KIM THOMAS

    The Government is considering toughening the rules for young drivers as a new report shows a high number are dying on our roads. An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report published yesterday said road crashes were the biggest killer of 15 to 24-year-olds in industrialised countries, and it urged governments to address the problem.

    The Young Drivers: Road to Safety report suggests young drivers spend more supervised time on the road before receiving their graduated licence, and recommends reducing blood-alcohol limits. It also suggests more rigorous enforcement of rules, particularly for young men, who are three times more likely to be killed in a crash than young female drivers.

    Transport Minister Annette King said the Government was concerned about high numbers of road deaths involving youngsters, and had consulted the public on ways to address the problem over recent months.

    A graduated driver's licence and lowered blood-alcohol levels for young people were some of the options being debated, King said. Law changes could be under way by the middle of next year. Policy proposals are due to be drawn up by the end of this month, according to a Ministry of Transport timetable on the legislation.

    Cantabrian Jordan Mason is one of the young drivers the Government hopes to target. Mason, 22, has spent time in prison for putting a man in a coma after a drag race in central Christchurch in 2002. He has been disqualified from driving for more than four years of the five that he has held a licence.

    Mason, he said, he was an inexperienced and cocky driver of 18, with three periods of disqualification under his belt, when his reckless driving landed him in prison. "I reckon they should put up the driving age to about 17 or 18. Fifteen is just stupid in my book because you just don't think about driving or have the experience to be out there in these high-performance cars."

    Mason hoped the Government would implement harsher rules for people who flouted driving laws, although he ignored his many disqualifications. He also favoured mandatory driving hours with an experienced, older driver as peer pressure played a part in encouraging his irresponsible behaviour.

    "My mate asked me to drive his car on that day (of his 2002 accident) because he said I was better at speeds. I was full of adrenalin and when there's people in the car, I couldn't say no," he said.

    -The Press

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  8. #8
    selchie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    I voted for 17 just because some teens may need a car to get to work. Otherwise, I would have voted 18. I think that many teens, and even older people, do not recognize how dangerous a hurtling box of metal on wheels is. Wreckless driving ought to be treated severely. Combined with NZ's low drinking age, I'm not surprised that so many young people are at the center of so many horrible smash-ups. (Hmm... wreckless, wreck... seeming opposites, yet wreckless driving can bring on a wreck).

    I don't quite buy the argument that teens need to drive because they live in an agricultural area, and need to get to school. How did they get to school when they were 10?

    In California, I got my licence at 16. Although I was one of the more careful teen drivers, I still did stupid things when in high spirits - mostly going 50 mph on a wonderful 35 mph curve. Fortunately I never got in a wreck. But some of my peers scared the bejeezus out of me, and I never got in the car with them a second time. At 16, my sister got T-boned when she blasted through a stop sign. She and her friends were unhurt only because she was driving a '63 Caddy (though the car was totaled).
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    Selchie... you mentioned NZ's low drinking age and it made me realise I don't know what it is? Has also led me on to wonder what the legal age to smoke/buy cigarettes is over there??? Can anyone enlighten me??? :)
    Arrived in New Zealand on WHV on 5th Feb '08.

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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Is 15 too young to drive?

    A bit about the legal drinking age in NZ.

    I think the legal age for smoking is 18 also. I tried to find a reasonable link to confirm this but they were all very ambiguous and it's my bedtime now so I'll look again in the morning. .
    Mother Bear

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