Should The Minimum Driving Age Be Raised To 21?

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Should The Minimum Driving Age Be Raised To 21?

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Review of "Should The Minimum Driving Age Be Raised To 21?"

published 15/01/2011 | exup35
Member since : 05/01/2007
Reviews : 77
Members who trust : 13
About me :
Pro lower insurance? calming and mellower
Cons older drivers can be just as bad, experience is not just automatic with age
very helpful
Road Handling
Customer service

"Age isn't really an issue"

Drove all night . .

Just to give a brief background on my driving history:
My sister has a photograph of me when I was about 2, sat in my Dad's Ford Anglia behind the steering wheel grinning at the camera.
I can remember sitting in the back seat of the car when we used to go visiting relatives, looking at road signs and remembering them from the copy of the highway code we had at home, not because I could understand it yet, but I liked looking at the pictures of cars, motorbikes etc.
I passed my car test when I was 17, and my motorcycle test at 18.
Until January 2009, when I was hit when stationary from behind in my car, I had not been involved in a car accident, which you maybe could also put down to a little bit of luck. Although I have had a few motorcycle “off's” - fortunately I was able to walk away from every one – more about that below.
I suppose I take my driving quite seriously, although I do enjoy driving, and riding my motorcycle. I try to drive within my, and my vehicles limits – (but then we all would say that wouldn't we?), but one of the main factors I have to consider is the limits of other peoples driving, which judging by the increasing amount of damage to roadside objects around where I live – is getting lower all the time.

Bike Instructing

(Apologies for talking bikes here, but I don't think it really matters what vehicle you are driving, what counts is how you control it when out on the road - but as most of my early road experience came from riding motorbikes - seen by many as dangerous, fast, antisocial mechanical atrocities - I feel its relevant to help make the point).

I was pretty lucky with landing my job as a bike instructor, as the senior instructor, was also the chairman of the nationwide BMF rider training scheme. He also ran his own commercial business alongside, which he made his living from. He was also asked to take part in various road planning discussions, such as when new legislation was being considered.
We met while I was recovering from a broken elbow, ironically from a motorcycle accident.
This had occurred around 2am, riding back home from work in May, when I hit a patch of ice ! (yes Ice – the policeman present could even see my tyre mark over the ice) – This could have been a lot worse, but maybe down to luck, and also riding at a reasonable speed for the area I was in, meant that I didn't leave the road at over 100mph – The motorcycle I was riding was, surprisingly, only slightly damaged and was repaired.

I began instructing not long after the Direct Access laws had been introduced to the UK – Which meant that a learner rider, over the age of 21 could learn to ride on a large motorcycle, and take their test on it – This would enable them to ride any size motorcycle once they had their full licence, rather than pass their test on a 125 and be restricted to 33 BHP for 2 years.

Another point to note at this time was a biking quirk known as the Born Again Biker – This was typically an ex biker from the 60's who had cut their teeth on bikes like Norton Commando, BSA Gold Star, Triumph Bonneville etc. This rider had then got married, had kids, settled down and sold the bike. Cut to 30 – 40 years later and the mortgage was now paid off, and the new breed of bikes (Honda Fireblade, Kawasaki Ninja, Ducati 916 etc.) now looked very appealing. Couple the present day performance of a modern sportsbike, (0-60 mph in under 2.5 seconds, in first gear! ) with a rider who hasn't the experience to control it, and you have a recipe for disaster. In fact the accident rate soared for this age group on these large capacity motorbikes.

During my work, I taught a wide range of pupils, ranging from 16 to 85 years old. One of the oldest pupils I had, was someone that reminded me of Joyce Grenfell from the old St Trinian films, and she was having to resit her CBT as her old one had expired. Although she was polite, and very well spoken, she was a little impatient during the theory as she had done it all before.
Moving to the riding, she almost scared to death another pupil, a young 16 year old lad, who was also learning on the same day, by tearing around the training ground, scraping the foot-pegs of her little Honda on the floor, looking something like Steve McQueen in The Great Escape.
On asking her to calm it down a little bit she responded haughtily

So on things went, even police officers from the local traffic division who wanted ro pass their bike test, although funnily enough, they could still make mistakes on basic highway code theory questions.

One sad occurrence came a couple of years after I had helped a schoolmate through his test. Although this individual was a tear or so younger than me. He passed his test on a 125, then elected to wait a couple of years before purchasing and riding a Honda CBR600. This I felt defeated the object of the two year probation period as he had not ridden anything else since his test.
I had heard the local motorcycle group had later refused to ride with him as they thought him too dangerous – and it was only a few weeks later when he was killed, after he was racing a friend on the local back roads, and crossed onto the other side of the road on a blind series of bends. He hit an oncoming car and was killed instantly. He was just 26 years old
A few months later I taught his cousin and I had to ask the question,
“Hasn't it put you off?”
“No” he replied “because with . . . . . , it was more or less a forgone conclusion, he was either going to kill himself in his car, or on his bike – I suppose all we can be thankful for is that it wasn't in his car, where he could have killed his passengers.”
Apart from the waste, this lad could have been a really good driver/rider as he had the machine control, but just not the restraint to shut off the throttle. Would he have mellowed as he got older? I don't know, but is it cynical to wonder if anyone with that sort of attitude to driving could last that long?

I also trained for my advanced riding, and advanced instructing qualifcation with a fellow instructor, and on an assessment ride I caught up a tractor on a rural road.
Once conditions permitted, I overtook, swiftly getting back up normal cruising speed again, but also noticed that my colleague had held back for a longer period for overtaking. He caught me up not long after.
On debrief - he mentioned the overtake and asked why I overtook on chevrons?
"Because I was showing you that I could overtake at the earliest safe oppurtunity, and it was a broken line around the chevrons"
"True" he replied "But I waited a bit longer, and I still caught you up no problem didn't I ?"
I decided to let that point rest rather than argue with a colleague with 24 years seniority on myself, but it did make me wonder on few points
- How fast would I have had to go, on a 500cc motorcycle, compared to his 1100 cc bike so he couldn't have caught me up? Would he then say I had been travelling too fast?
- If, in theory, I had been travelling at the optimum speed for the road, then he shouldn't have been able to catch me up, unless he himself had driven at a faster speed then was safe - in which case he wasn't in a safe position to appraise my driving anyway.
- Even on an advanced driving course, it still seemed to come down to getting there quicker than the other guy.
Dropping the age ?

During a seminar, that our senior instructor took part in, he actually made the suggestion of dropping the minimum age limit to something along the lines of some European countries.
14 years was mentioned, possibly riding vehicles of less power than current mopeds (30 mph / 50cc ).
This, he stated, had not led to the carnage that everyone thought it would have. Also introducing road skills with a powered vehicle had helped these younger people to gain a better respect for road and traffic conditions, even to get “it out of the system” before they were old enough to move onto a more powerful vehicle.
Would it have worked? Could it work?
I don't know, but its interesting to consider, especially when you look at the Born Again Biker accident ate mentioned earlier. Is age as much of an issue as having the right attitude?
I've certainly seen plenty of bad, aggressive drivers of many age groups, men and women, although I would admit, more men than women.


Speed can be like a drug. I won't deny that I enjoy hurtling my motorcycle or car round bends, but there is a time and place to do it. All over the country there are plenty of venues available where you can let it all out, so to speak. Go kart tracks, motor racing circuits where you can book a track day, drag race strips where you can take your own vehicle for a Run What U Brung.
It's being able to tell the difference between the public road, and a racetrack which is the problem, and the media, with the way it glamourises aggressive driving which, I believe causes quite a few problems.
Motorcycle news stated that they “publish articles that their readers want to see, and there is no evidence that they will act on something that they see or read in the press anyway”
No ? Strange then, considering how much money MCN and other motoring publications make from advertising, which is based on the hope that customers will buy things purely based on what they read ! This whole review website is based around that very same idea.
The Exup in my username is taken from a Yamaha motorcycle, which was available in various sizes, from an FZR250, 400, 600, 750 and 1000cc.
One motorcycle magazine, on writing about the FZR400
“Why buy the 400 when you can have the 600 for nearly the same price?”
Because I don't want a 600, I want a 400, but where does it stop??
“Why buy the 600 when you can have the 750 for just a few hundred more?”
and so on,
There is always a push for more power, more speed – just watch an episode of Top Gear and you will see what I mean. The cars they road test, for the average person are so impractical and out of reach it's just pure fantasy, but if everyone bought cars on their recommendations, then we would be all driving round in V8 supercars, racing each other from every set of traffic lights, to the next roundabout and back, all the time. Anyone who drives a “normal” family car is an object for ridicule. The presenters aren't 17 year old kids though, but middle aged men. Don't get me wrong, I love Top Gear, but unlike some people, I can tell the difference between escapism and real life.
It can promote driving selfishness though, and a lack of respect for other road users, no matter how vulnerable they can be, (or if you are on a motorbike, who vulnerable you are yourself)!
Drive, or ride yourself and see if you can spot this - “must get there first” attitude in other road users, maybe even in yourself, (which is more difficult to spot). Driving faster than normal to catch up the vehicle ahead. Overtaking when there is no real need or benefit, even on a dual carriageway or motorway, closing the gap to the vehicle in front to prevent another road user from moving into it.
Or tailgating (anyone else still use the two second rule? because around where I live I don't think it exists any more).
Sadly this sort of attitude is common everywhere. Even a colleague, sneered at my little Fiat at work, not knowing I was stood behind him
“I wouldn't even GET in that thing”
Not that I need social acceptance from him anyway.
Born to be Wild

Recently, one of my best friends decided to take his bike test, and also his wife. He is now the proud owner of a HondaCBR600 - but a few things have played on my mind:
Currently I have over 9 years no claims insurance on my motorcycle, which is the maximum for the company I am with, but my friend with no experience, and a new policy can actually get insurance for less than half of what I am paying !. This is taking into account the slight difference in machines we ride (although very simllar in insurance groups) and my advanced instructor qualification.
Also on riding with him, when we returned back to his house, his teenage son asked how the day had gone.
"Fine, we rode pretty much at the same speed, but I was a bit faster through traffic"
Now this comment worried me a little, and maybe I am reading too much into his comment, but to me it seemed to be hinting at something all too familiar.
Is it myself being competitive when I thought.
"I could have ridden a whole bloody lot faster if I had wanted to." ?
But I don't think so, more that I was concerned that he thought of the ride out in this way.

In danger of getting off the main subject, but I feel that it is down to getting the correct start on the road (sic) to driving, like a lot of skills in life – the earlier you can start this off the better. There is no substitute for experience, but how do you get that experience if you are prohibited from learning in the first place? There isn't that much wrong with the age limit for driving, or the way that driving tests are conducted – the main problem is from the general public and the British media's attitude to driving, and I think that on the whole, we all need to grow up!

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Comments on this review

  • ronnoc377 published 11/04/2011
    Simply a statement, no need to be so defensive and frankly, rude in reply; I have rated your review by my opinion on its helpfulness and relevance If I wanted to read about motorcycles and riding regulations for them I certainly would not have chosen to look at a topic entitled "Should The Minimum Driving Age Be Raised To 21?". And by the way, perhaps you should check on the law again as you seem to be misinformed: because the minimum driving age for an agricultural tractor is 17, or age 16 for tractors less than 2.45 metres wide, it must only pull trailers less than 2.45 metres wide with two wheels, or four close-coupled.
  • exup35 published 09/04/2011
    oh dear ronnoc, the minimum driving age for motorcycle and car is the same - 17 years, which is what everyone else is discussing and comparing it being raised to 21 years - If you really wanted to be pedantic then maybe you should have commented that the minimum driving age for a tractor is 14 ? ? Perhaps you should engage brain before typing next time.
  • ronnoc377 published 07/04/2011
    The subject is about minimum driving age not motorcycle riding age so for that reason I had to rate it at least one level lower
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