Unless you receive personal Independence Payment (PIP), the legal driving age is 17. Youthoria.com states that at 16, you can consent to sexual activity, apply for a provisional driving license, drive a moped, receive your national insurance number and get married or register a civil partnership with consent. If this is the case, then should 16-year olds in the UK be allowed to drive? 

I’m 17 years, 3 months old and today I had my first driving lesson. It was both terrifying and yet exciting! From a young age, I have always been in a hurry to be independent, I started walking at 6 months. At aged 12, I was already searching for my first car online or just scouting the roads for ideas. At that time, my parents probably had enough of me asking them about how to drive, questioning them about road signs and exploring the various makes of cars; things that I didn't need to worry about yet. I think my parents were more concerned as to why I wasn’t giving my school work the same amount of attention! The wait has been agonising.

It comes as no surprise that as soon as my older sister turned 17, I was urging her to take driving lessons but clearly, she was not ready. In my black and white mind, it seemed as if she was looking a gift horse in the mouth as my mum had offered to pay for her lessons. I would have to wait another 3 years until I could start my first lesson due to, what seems like a very arbitrary age limit especially as I could get married at 16, have sex, have a baby, but not drive until I turned 17!

To get a professional opinion on the topic, I asked my driving instructor Mike whether the legal driving age should be changed to 16, and to my surprise, he believes that it should be increased. He suggested that the minimum age at which you should be able to learn how to drive should be 20 and that 21 was an acceptable age to purchase and drive a car. His reasoning behind this, was that young drivers can be reckless and would be more likely to end up in a car crash.

Despite Mike’s opinion, Transport for London's June 2015 report showed that the number of road traffic accidents involving 17-24 year olds has decreased since the 1990s. Moreover, the Government introduced the ‘Pass Plus’ scheme, in order to reduce the number of accidents that new drivers are involved in. This consists of extra lessons to put newly qualified drivers at ease when on the road, especially on the motorway.

I understand that owning a car is expensive as you have to consider things such as insurance, road tax and general car maintenance. Can a 17 year old, let alone a 16 year old, support themselves financially without any help? Would this be too much of a financial burden and encourage young people to go into debt? Furthermore, fuel is costly to keep the car on the road. If we consider the environmental issues associated with driving, petrol and diesel are finite resources which means they will eventually run out. In addition, car exhaust contributes to a number of environmental problems such as global warming, air pollution and acid rain. Also, Cars release dangerous fumes such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions which can cause respiratory problems and irritation.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that the driving age should be lowered?