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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety


Age of access

The choice of a minimum age for solo driving is difficult, as it may be conditioned by different local, social, or cultural circumstances. A higher driving age may well save lives, by preventing young and inexperienced drivers from solo driving until they are older. It has been shown that first year fatalities rise as the age of first time solo driving decreases.

But these measures could, on the other hand, limit their access to work, and social and educational opportunities. Therefore, the need for mobility at a given age should be balanced against the cost of this mobility, in terms of human life and health, as well as economic impact. Such an analysis should be based on as complete and reliable data as possible.

Particularly in countries where people are allowed to drive from their mid-teens, any government seeking to reduce young driver related deaths should consider the option of rising the minimum legal age. Furthermore, learning periods following the minimum driving age and protective measures following licensing for solo driving can do much to reduce the age-related aspects of risk.

If a higher access age is chosen for car driving, this may motivate young people to choose even less safe modes of transport, such as motorcycles. Ideally, young people should not be allowed to ride a two-wheeled motor vehicle under the minimum age for solo car driving, but in some conditions this may restrict their mobility too severely. In terms of policy development, these potentially adverse effects of delayed licensing need to be carefully weighed against the expected safety gains.