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Petition: 'Teach 11-year-olds to drive!'

2015-07-30 10:25

GOOD IDEA? BAD IDEA? Would teaching children skills to drive at a younger age or while they're at school help reduce road deaths in SA? Image: Newspress

  • Courses start with 11-year-olds
  • Early driving could save lives
  • People urged to sign the petition

LONDON, England - Major motoring organisations and experts are backing a petition that urges the British government to include driving on the school curriculum for children as young as 11.

It’s something already common in the US – Wheels24 believes it is something that should be initiated here in South Africa, too.


The petition was launched in an attempt to reduce the number of road incidents involving newly qualified UK drivers and was launched by Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of under-17 driving lessons.

It has, the company says, backing from the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the Royal Automobile Club, the Driving Instructors’ Association, the Association of British Insurers, the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain, Admiral, Goodyear and motoring presenter and expert Quentin Willson.

Solid support, indeed...

One in five new drivers, according to stats, crashes within six months of being licensed and crashes account for 25% of 15 to 19-year-olds deaths in the UK. The figure for adults is only 0.5% of the overall adult population - though that figures given they also die of old age and disease...

Whatever, every year about 400 people die in collisions involving young drivers.

Should South Africa start a similar programme to teach youngsters driving skills at an earlier age, but keep the legal driving age at 18? Will this reduce road deaths and crashes here?  Email us and we'll publish your thoughts or use the Readers' Comments section below...

The petition does not propose lowering the age at which people can take to the road but instead suggests youngsters should start to be taught about driving at school through not only classroom but also practical lessons.

Independent research for Young Driver showed that pupils, taken from as young as 11, are half as likely to be involved in a road incident when licensed. Pilot studies in Europe show a 40% reduction among novice drivers who were pre-trained at school.


Young Driver's Kim Stanton explained: “Driving is one of the most dangerous and responsible things a person can do. Learning should be over a long period and from a young age when pupils are more receptive to safety messages.

“Evidence-based research shows that road-safety messages are better absorbed by children in their early teens rather than at driving age. By halving this at school it can be made inclusive for all. We urge people to sign this petition so we can get this issue in front of the people with the power to change things.”

Mark Lewis, director of standards for the UK’s Institute of Advanced Motorists, added: “The high number of accidents and loss of life as a result of unprepared young drivers needs to be tackled urgently.


“The driving education youngsters are receiving is inadequate. At the IAM we can help prepare people for more-advanced driving situations once they have passed their test but more needs to be done at an earlier stage. Learning such an important skill shouldn’t be done-an-dusted in a few months.

“I strongly believe people should sign this petition and get the subject debated in parliament.”

Quentin Willson, motoring expert and presenter, added: “My son (16) and daughter (11) have started having driving lessons with Young Driver. I think it’s vital – it’s a road safety revolution in the making. If we could get this on the curriculum and so open to all it would have huge safety ramifications for our young people. 100 000 signatures could help save 400 lives a year.”

GET THE KIDS IN DRIVING SCHOOL: Children as young as 11 should be signed up for off-street driving lessons. Image: Newspress

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