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Driving age could be lowered to 16

The Local · 18 Apr 2012, 12:30

Published: 18 Apr 2012 12:30 GMT+02:00

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Current laws allow Germans to get behind the wheel when they are 17, but only with parental supervision until they hit 18, when they are allowed to drive alone.

But Peter Bleser, parliamentary state secretary in the Consumer Protection Ministry, said this was not fair, particularly for younger teenagers who live in rural areas.

He told the Saarbrücker Zeitung newspaper on Wednesday that young people living in the country often faced great difficulties travelling to apprenticeships due to the lack of public transport.

Allowing them to drive would also act as an incentive for young people to remain living in rural areas, he suggested.

Prospective early drivers will not only be stuck at slower than 80 kph, they will also have to get their parents’ permission, Bleser said.

Even so, such a change would have "fatal consequences" according to the UDV, the German Insurers' Accident Research group. Drivers aged between 18 and 24 were already involved in more accidents than older people, and this would only get worse with younger drivers.

The Christian Democratic Union’s expert committee on food, agriculture and consumer protection will present its ideas to Monday’s national party meeting.

Driving at 16 is legal in some states of the USA as well as Canada and Australia. But European motorists are only allowed to take to the roads at such a young age in France, Sweden and Norway - and then only with parental supervision.

And not everyone is in favour of the move. The ADAC, the German motoring organisation, was quick to declare its opposition.

Spokesman Andreas Hölzel said, “This makes absolutely no sense,” and referred to statistics on the high accident rate among young drivers. “Individual motorists should not have to bear the brunt of local public transport problems,” he said.

Sven Rademacher, a spokesman for the German Road Safety Council, defended the current system of accompanied driving at 17, saying the government’s efforts would be better directed at improving the supervision system. “Multi-phase models like those already in use in other countries should be our focus,” he said.

Story continues below…

The CDU is not the only party to have attracted controversy over a proposed change to age threshold laws. On Sunday, the Pirate Party called to reduce the voting age to 12 at a party meeting in Magdeburg. Germans have to be 18 to vote in all elections apart from municipal elections in six federal states where the age is 16.

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:33 April 18, 2012 by raandy
80KPH, parental permission, all sounds difficult to enforce and these 16 year old drivers restricted to 80 would be a potential problem for other motorist, assuming they would abide by this restriction to begin with .I am a bit dubious about this proposed change.
18:07 April 18, 2012 by lordkorner
I did some crazy things in a car at 18,I dread to think how I would have been at the very tender and immature age of 16...
18:12 April 18, 2012 by Reader75
16 years old is too young to operate a moving vehicle. The brains of 16-year olds are not fully developed to handle split-second decisions that only come from experience and mature development. MANY American parents simply ignore the restrictive rules mandated by an underage driver's license and allow their son or daughter to drive after dark at all hours on interstate highways (autobahns) and carrying a vehicle full of passengers. American underage teenagers are killed every day because they think they're invincible, death happens to "somebody else," they're too busy texting or talking on their cell phones rather than paying attention to the road. Peter Bleser should read "Please God, I'm Only 17" and be made to write it 100 times in German before he pushes to pass this law.
19:14 April 18, 2012 by euan.dykes
No Deutschland this is a really bad idea! In New Zealand we had it at 15 (although not sure if it still is) and with cheap cars from Japan every kid was driving themselves to school. High School car parks are now just full of cars and the roads around 3pm are a nightmare. With that number of inexperienced drivers on the road, many fatal accidents happen. Before cars became so affordable students use to cycle or use the school bus to get to school, the roads would be quiet and free flowing. It makes no economic sense to lower the driving age, so why do it?
19:43 April 18, 2012 by Gretl
I am not against driving at 16 or drinking at 16, both not both. As I tell my daughter, you can either drive at 16 and drink at 21 or drink at 16 and ride the train/bus until you are 18. I have no problem with girls driving at 16, but boys, who are going through their testosterone storm until they are 21, are poor risks. I don't want my daughter in a car driven by a reckless young man.

Americans don't have the public transportation available in rural areas, and many kids grow up driving a tractor or pickup truck on the farm, or snow mobile from the time they are 12 or 13. After-school jobs require transportation. However, things have changed since the days when I was a teen. Texting by teens AND adults has made the roads scary. I saw a woman on the autobahn Monday in the middle lane doing 100km/hr and everyone was having to go around her, and she was texting!
03:18 April 19, 2012 by hanskarl
Lets look at American National Teen Driving Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

In 2007, the latest year for which data are available, motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death among 13-19 year-old males and females in the United States.

Thirty-three percent of deaths among 13-19-year-olds occurred in motor vehicle crashes, 39 percent among females and 31 percent among males.

16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.

The crash rate per mile driven is twice as high for 16-year-olds as it is for 18- and 19-year-olds.

Statistics show that 16- and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.

Fifty-five percent of motor vehicle crash deaths among teenagers in 2009 occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

In 2006 (latest data available) crashes involving 15- to 17-year-olds cost more than $34 billion nationwide in medical treatment, property damage and other costs, according to an AAA analysis.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Teenage drivers and passengers are among those least likely to wear their seat belts.

Hand-held cellphone use was highest among 16- to 24-year-olds (8 percent in 2008, down from 9 percent in 2007).

In 2008, 37 percent of male drivers ages 15-20 who were involved in fatal crashes were speeding at the time.

In 2008, 55 percent of passenger vehicles occupants ages 16-20 who were killed in crashes were not buckled up.

In 2009, 33 percent of the young drivers (15 to 20 years old) who were killed in crashes had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher; 28 percent had a BAC of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher.
15:27 April 22, 2012 by Illogicbuster
reader 75 ignorantly stated,

"16 years old is too young to operate a moving vehicle. The brains of 16-year olds are not fully developed to handle split-second decisions that only come from experience and mature development."

LOL! I was racing at age 16. Speeds in excess of 230 kph. A 16 year olds reflexes are MUCH faster than an older person. I was also a top fencer. I would have sliced you up in an instant. What 16 yr olds ARE lacking is driving experience. Give them 6 months with a parent and NO night driving for one year.
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