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Too young to drive?

by Archives November 13, 2007

With the recent death of three-year old Bianca Leduc, many questions and concerns have been raised over young drivers in Quebec. Currently, a Quebec driver’s license can be obtained after eight months of driving courses with a Learner’s Permit, or 12 months without a driving course.
That means that 16 year-olds in Quebec can legally drive an automobile without supervision. Requirements for obtaining a license vary with the jurisdiction in Canada. Ontario shares many of the same age restrictions as Quebec. But shockingly, Alberta allows teens as young as 14 to get behind the wheel and begin driving (while supervised). Does any one else think that’s both ridiculous and scary? For all intents and purposes, it’s allowing a child behind the wheel.
Thinking back to when I was 16, I can’t really say that I should have been driving…but at 14? That’s way too young.
At that age, many teenagers are not mature enough to handle the responsibility and consequences of driving. Coupled with this is the fact that the driver’s tests and educational courses offered at many driving schools and government outlets are not equipping teens with the kinds of skills or knowledge they need in order to drive a car safely on today’s roads.
The techniques and regulations being taught are often outdated and designed for a time when there was much less traffic. The driving exams share this same problem.
This is perhaps one of the reasons that young drivers are not properly educated on the consequences of their actions behind the wheel. And they are all too often forced to learn these things for themselves – in many cases not until it is too late, such as it was for the two teens who struck Bianca Leduc.
So what is the answer to this problem? Ban teens under the age of 18 from driving?
Well, you could do that, but in this case the two accused were 17 and 18 respectively when the accident occurred.
But the best answer likely lies in education. Teach these future drivers while they are still in high school.
Why don’t the high schools in Quebec offer mandatory driver training? Even if someone doesn’t want to get a license, it can’t hurt to educate them on the rules and dangers of the road for when they are a pedestrian, or the inevitable day when they step into a car as a passenger.
A study by the Cochrane Injuries Group Driver Education Reviewers showed that young drivers who received proper driver training while still in high school were more than 25 per cent less likely to be involved in a traffic accident or collision.
A tragic accident like the one that left a 3 year-old dead and two teenagers charged with Dangerous Driving Causing Death doesn’t have to happen. Perhaps the minimum age for drivers really should be 18 across Canada.
In the end, mandatory, quality education nationwide for future drivers while they are still in high school is still by far the most important aspect in addressing this problem.
Beyond this, the responsibility lies with each of us individually. We must think of our own actions, and remember that teenagers aren’t the only ones who can drive irresponsibly.
It’s up to us to ensure that we drive within the realm of safety. Most importantly, slow down in the city – especially when driving in residential areas.
A small child can come running out from between parked cars so quickly that there’s not even enough time to slow the car down.
When you think about it, at the end of the day being a couple of minutes early really isn’t worth the risk of ending someone’s life.

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