/ Motoring, Parenting

16-year-olds can now legally drive small cars

Aixam GTO

It’s the law – 16-year-olds can now legally drive small cars on UK roads. Or at least they’re allowed to drive ‘light quadricycles’, such as the pictured Aixam GTO. Are you happy to see them taking to the road?

Did you know that 16-year olds can now legally drive a car? Well, almost. A new law that came into force in January allows 16-year-olds to drive a special class of car called light quadricycles.

The new category is for cars weighing less than 350kg with a top speed limited to just 28mph.

A dangerous move?

When I first heard about the new law, I was open to the idea, but here’s what I didn’t know back then: any 16-year old can drive one of these cars after just a half-day compulsory basic training (CBT) test.

Then they’ll be able to drive on UK roads, either solo or with passengers, with no other training or testing required.

Some concerns have been raised about the new law, which include; other road users being impeded by the slow speed; the statistical danger of several young people being in a car; and whether these cars just represent something bigger and more dangerous for youngsters to make mistakes in.

So why am I still in favour?

On reflection, I’m still in favour. Let’s be clear here – 16-year-olds have been driving on our roads for years… on mopeds. The new law gives young adults the right to drive a low-powered four-wheeler, and I’d far rather have my children drive one of these quadricycles than a moped.

There’s a real opportunity here to let young drivers learn roadcraft at an early age, getting them used to roads and other traffic in a low-powered vehicle before they progress to a full-size car aged 17. And for some, this could be a real life-line to education or a job.

We might be unfamiliar with this type of car in the UK, but they’ve been around in other EU countries since the 1970s. In France and Italy they allow drivers as young as 14 to get behind the wheel!

And I somehow doubt that our roads will be overwhelmed with these things, mainly due to the cost. The cheapest new quadricycle in the UK (the Aixam) costs £9,999 and insurance could be more than £2,000 a year.

These 16-year-old drivers will doubtless only be on the road in their quadricycles for a year at most, when they’ll switch to a full-size car as safer and more mature drivers.

Are you happy to see 16-year-olds driving small cars like Renault’s Twizy now that it’s legal for them to do so?


I was riding a motor bike to travel to work at age 16.
It has been well proven that the acident problem is not with age, but is always the first year regardless of what age you start or indeed what you start as.


I presume that driving these things will also appeal to a large number of people over seventeen who are not interested in taking [or capable of passing] a driving test or who cannot afford the insurance for a motor car – or is there some restriction not mentioned in the article? And what are the insurance implications?

Personally I’d rather see people driving these LQ’s on the roads at 28 mph max instead of the mobility scooters [at 8 mph] which seem to be very vulnerable with their tiny wheelbase, little wheels, and lack of protection

richard says:
6 February 2013

In all honesty – I am not happy about it because a great many ‘accidents’ by young people have little to do with the speed but simple poor driving – Ex if driver at 28mph making a mistake hits another car or m/cycle head on going 50 mph – resultant damage the same as hitting a brick wall at 78 mph. The only thing is if both are cars the human damage is probably lower. But I’m not hopeful especially in London..

Steve says:
6 February 2013

As a driver I am not at all happy about these vehicles. I do a lot of local driving for work and I will be forced to overtake them as time is money.


Where there is a 30 mph speed limit the maximum speed of these Quadricycles is about right. Overtaking would be risking a speeding offence.


The article is about 16 year olds driving them.
The problem with the vehicles is the same driven by a 16 year old as it is being driven by a 60 year old, or a 90 year old.

Peter Cobbledick says:
6 May 2016

What in a 30mph area! Thats where these are designed to operate.


As I understand it you can ride a small motorcycle on L plates with no training, but cannot carry a passenger unless they have a licence. Does the same apply to thses vehicles? If not, it should, with an appropriate test.
What always surprises me is how new drivers are launched onto overcrowded roads on their L plates from the start. You would think there would be off-road venues where basic driving skills could be taught before continuing their training in real traffic.

Rebecca says:
7 December 2014

the off road training your on about is what happens in a cbt. They are not technically just “chucked” on the road and with all the new strict requirements to pass any kind of test, I have seen better and safer 16 year olds than I have 30+ year olds who just had to drive around a couple of times and park in their test to get on the road.