The case of the millionaire's son, Antonio Singh Boparan, who caused severe injuries to a toddler while driving a high powered Range Rover at the age of 19 exposes the pointlessness of the government's plans to raise the driving age to 18 in an attempt to cut young drive accident rates.
I do not believe that young drivers today are any less or any more capable than young drivers 30 years ago. The governments proposals do nothing to tackle the real problem which is the simple fact that modern cars are considerably more powerful than the vehicles that we first drove after passing our tests. Not only are they more powerful, they are also much easier to drive and loaded with features that render the driver complacent endowing them with a false sense of security.
Allowing a 19 year old to get behind the wheel of a powerful car like a Range Rover is akin to handing a 9 year old a powerful, petrol driven chain saw in his first woodwork class because he managed to use a mini-hacksaw for 2 minutes without killing himself. It is crazy.
The way to tackle the problem is to address the cause. Singh would still have crashed whether he'd passed his test at 18 or 17 - the access to the car is the issue. And as long as an 18 year old can easily pick up a cheap second hand car that is capable of more than 100 mph and accelerates faster than a 1970's sports car then cases like this will continue to happen.
The answer is to restrict newly qualified drivers to low powered vehicles - I'd suggest a maximum 65 bhp rather than simply go on engine size - and restrict them for 2 years. After 2 years they can move up to the next level - but still be restricted to a maximum 80 bhp for a further 2 years. On top of that, ANY motoring offence committed in those years will add a further 2 years MINIMUM to their restriction.
Furthermore, while restricted to the 65bhp limit drivers will be required to display a red R plate on the front and rear of their vehicle and a green R plate while on the 80 bhp limit of restriction.
Finally, I would make it a requirement for anyone, regardless of age or experience, wishing to drive a high powered vehicle (say, above 150bhp) to take the advanced driving test.
I'm not normally one for state intervention in people's lives to this extent. For instance, I am opposed to both the compulsory seat belt and crash helmet laws as I believe this should be up to the individual. But this is different because the modern car in the wrong hands is a lethal weapon - and in most cases the "wrong hands" means young inexperienced drivers. As modern cars have got more powerful, easier to drive and packed with more features (and distractions), roads have got busier, more badly maintained and with even more distractions (the proliferation of signage in particular).
When 16 year olds started killing themselves on their FS1E's and KH250's the government took a sensible common sense approach that dealt with the issue (although I thought the restriction on mopeds was a little too severe). It dealt with the issue and the industry adapted successfully to the new rules with new designs