There are arguments that the legal driving age is too low, and this causes an unacceptably high level of traffic accidents. Raising the driving age, would ensure young drivers are more experienced and less prone to rash judgements which can put other road users at risk. Arguments for raising the legal driving age include:
1. Cut the number of deaths
The highest death rate for drivers is amongst the age group 17-25. If the driving age is increased there would a be a fall in fatalities arising from motor car use. This has a significant economic benefit.
2. Cut Congestion.
Fewer drivers on the road will reduce congestion and therefore reduce costs for firms
3. Reduce Obesity
Driving encourages the population to become lazy and obese. If people can’t drive they will be forced to walk, use public transport and cycle. This will help lead to a healthier population, which in turn leads to less strain on the NHS
4. Young drivers overestimate their skill
Young drivers, especially male drivers, are likely to overestimate their ability to drive at speed and in difficult conditions. For people of school age, there is often great peer pressure to drive excessively and in a dangerous way.
However, raising the driving age to 21 is rather a crude mechanism to raise some issues from young drivers.
Disadvantages of Raising Driving Age
- Is public transport good enough to provide an alternative? People in rural areas will be at a disadvantage and struggle to travel to work and visit friends
- Train travel is much more expensive than car use. Young people are already struggling with high rents and cost of education.
- Reduced mobility of young people can have an economic cost; it would lead to geographical immobility and geographical unemployment
- There are much better ways to tackle issues of pollution and congestion than raising the driving age. For example, using electronic-road pricing could better manage demand and congestion levels.
- High traffic accidents amongst young drivers are a problem, however, a better solution may be to improve standards of driving tests and stricter enforcement of speed limits. People have to learn to drive at some time.
- Lower demand for cars and therefore lower output in the car industry.
- It is an arbitrary denial of freedom to choose.
Raising the driving age to 21 is not a good idea. There is a stronger case for raising the driving age to 18 (though as a compromise people could be learner driver from the age of 17.