/ 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?

Comments
Member

Yes.
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.

Member

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

Member
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..

Member
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.

Member

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

Member

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.

Member
Peter Cobbledick says:
6 May 2016

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

Member

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.

Member
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.

Member
Peter M says:
6 February 2013

I agree with Malcolm M, any new driver regardless of age should pass a basic skills test at an off road venue prior to being let loose on the roads, Although I am not against the use of these vehicles I would worry that some drivers would find it frustrating sitting behind them at 28 mph and attempt dangerous maneuvers to overtake.

Member

The problem is that at 16 there can still be a huge difference in maturity. And what 16 year old can afford the insurance? So I’m not in favour of reducing the driving age.

Member

All good points so far, but John Ward has spotted the key issue, which John’s article emphasizes: it’s a moped or these quadricycles – and it’s already the law whether we like it or not. As time goes by there will be more and cheaper quadricycles, but they will still be far more expensive both to buy and insure than the small 50cc motorcycles and scooters (legally, mopeds) which our 16-year-olds and others now ride in their millions.

But the quadricycles will be safer by far, by far than anything on two wheels: for the user, for passengers, for other road users and for pedestrians who may be in a collision with them. And as for the overtaking problem on roads with a speed limit over 30mph – well, how would you overtake a scooter? Or a farm tractor? Safely, I hope – whether in a hurry or not, and without crowding the slower vehicle off the road!

Member

It has been decided that 16-year-olds can drive these ‘cars’, so we might as well wait and see what happens. Those who do drive them will be better prepared for driving ordinary cars.

I wonder if 16-year-olds will be able to afford the cost of these cars, even second-hand, including insurance and fuel. Mum and dad might have to make it a combined birthday and Christmas present.

Member
Enrico says:
13 February 2013

Within a 30 mph limit note how many people are happy to stick to this speed.
Outside a 30 mph limit just think of the effect of these slow vehicles on impatient drivers. Overtaking a moped needs little space but these cars will require much more space (mobility scooters have already been mentioned) to overtake and then the traffic in the opposite direction becomes involved too. I regard the emergence of this new vehicle with much trepidation.

Member
Nick M says:
16 May 2013

I think its a better idea than a youngster on a moped to be honest and a little safer, Where i live i always see young riders with there friends riding close together which always looks quite dangerous, I think they would feel more responsible having a car and when you take the cost into consideration i dont think they will be that keen on upsetting mum and dad! I hope this will be the way forward for younger drivers and hopefully bring down insurance costs to them too as they will have a little more driving experience building up some no claims too!

Member
Tigger says:
30 June 2013

Note that they are often used in France by people who have lost their licence for drink driving. We could see the same happen here…

Member
DARREN says:
18 September 2014

hello do these rules mean i can drive anything listed as a small car on a cbt and provisional

Member

Hi Darren, the rule is that any 16 year old who passes CBT (Compulsory Basic Training) can drive a lightweight ‘quadricycle’ car that doesn’t weigh more than 350kg. They are also speed-limited to 28mph.

Member
Stefan says:
29 September 2014

Does this provide a vehicle option to drivers who have lost their licence?

Member

Does anyone know how the new law affects 3 wheelers such as bubble cars or the vast range
of other 3 wheeled vehicles such as trikes, kit cars, choppers and tuk-tuks ?

Member

Woodman, how these older vehicles are regarded is complex. It partly depends on whether they are allowed to be used under the old rules, partly whether they fall under the new rules as a quadricycle for 16-year-olds – and I’m sure that they’ll have to be certificated to be allowed under the new regs (though this may already have been done elsewhere in the EU, which ought to be OK).

Old rules are interesting – a ‘fizzy’, the Yamaha FS1E moped with pedals, was easily capable of 40mph and with an (illegal) mod kit could manage 55mph on the flat with a bit of a wind behind it. They were once popular for those kids who could afford their premium price, and some are still around today – and still as legal as they ever were. Lightweight electric vehicles and farm tractors could also be used by 16-year-olds, and as far as I know, those rules still hold.

If you’re older and have had a car licence for decades, you can (and some do – often fatally) drive a superbike on ‘L’ plates for, I think, up to a year without passing a bike test. Too many retirees have used their lump sum to go back to their youths and bought a superbike, not realizing that today’s 125BHP monsters are a far cry from the 60BHP heavyweights of their youthful aspirations. After a careful few hours of trials, they often have a major spill the first time they open the throttle fully – at any speed.

It’s a very good thing that new motorcyclists need three stages of testing before they can use these monsters on the roads, mixing it with the rest of us!

Member
Denis Kershaw says:
30 June 2016

Hello I’ve bought my 16 yr old daughter a micro car I can not get it insured until her 17th birthday why? Also it’s says she can drive solo with L plates is this correct? plze help someone