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?
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?