Learning to drive – how young is too young?

Learning to drive - how young is too young?

Debate rages in the UK over whether teenagers should be learning to drive.

Young Driver
The Young Driver program in the UK allows children as young as 11 to get behind the wheel. (images courtesy of youngdriver.eu).

A leading UK road safety organization believes children aged as young as eleven should not be learning to drive, as they believe it promotes over confidence among novice drivers.

Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people in Britain aged 15-25 and a debate has opened up in the nation about what can be done to try and curb young driver fatalities.

Nicholas Prangnell from cars.aol.co.uk reports that some are calling for more teenagers to undergo practical driver training schemes, which include allowing teens to get behind the wheel of a car in a controlled environment.

But Brake, a leading road safety charity, believes programs such as this can be counterproductive as they often give young drivers too much confidence in their abilities.

“We do not support under 17 or pre-test driver programmes or training schemes. Although these sessions provide extra training, we feel that it prompts over confidence, resulting in young drivers being more inclined to take risks when they reach the roads.” Senior Campaigns Officer at Brake, Ellen Booth said.

Instead Brake wants to see the introduction of tougher restrictions on learners, including minimum learning periods.

But advocates for practical driver training among pre-learners disagree.

Managing Director of Young Driver Training Ltd, Kim Stanton says teenagers should be learning how to control a car before they hit the roads as learners.

“The national average is that 1 in 5 new drivers will crash within 6 months. We have been following our students after they’ve passed their practical test and our research shows less than 1 in 10 drivers who have had at least 6 lessons with us have had an accident in the same time period.”

“We believe the more time spent behind the wheel, the better and safer drivers will be when they reach the public roads at 17.”

Let us know what you think, are practical lessons a good idea or do they promote over-confidence?