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Just one of the many news headlines that we see all the time in New Zealand regarding youth drivers. 15 is far too young for a person to be in control of 1200 kilograms of malicious metal. New Zealand needs to catch up to the rest of the world and raise the driving age. Youth drivers are causing too many problems on our roads as results of their drink driving and the powerful cars that they own. Currently there are 400,000 drivers aged 15-25 on New Zealand’s roads. This group accounts for nearly a third of all road deaths and injuries.

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Because of this, the New Zealand population needs to take action and raise the driving age so that the roads can be safer again. Drink driving is a choice. Those who choose to partake in this harmful activity do so at the risk of them and everyone else on the road. Sadly many young drivers do not heed the countless warnings given to them and choose to engage themselves in such dangerous doings. Numerous drink-driving campaigns aimed at youths such as Students Against Driving Drunk (S. A. D. D) have made the New Zealand public aware of the risks involved in driving drunk.

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But still more and more youths drink and drive. This is a well-known fact. The bodies of young people cannot handle the levels of alcohol present in their systems and once they get behind the wheel of a vehicle they are endangering everyone in their vicinity. Where one beer may be fine for a fully grown adult to drink with little or no effect on them, this one beer may be enough to get some teens drunk. Being so young and small the alcohol stays in their bodies and greatly influences how they perceive the driving environment. Reaction speeds slow down and judgment becomes flawed.

Between 2003 and 2005, 31% of all fatal accidents caused by youth drivers came about as a result of alcohol. A teen is not responsible enough to be put behind something so powerful when they are clearly incapable of making sound judgments. Boy racers are another problem that is widespread in New Zealand. In the year 2005 teenage drivers were involved in 4507 crashes with 47% of those being because of their speed. Currently there are no laws stating what cars young drivers can or cannot drive. As a result of this, many teenagers are behind the wheels of souped up cars, sometimes with engines more powerful than 2000cc.

With alterations such as rotary engines and lowered bodies, these cars are extremely dangerous when placed in the hands of nai?? ve and inexperienced youths. During weekends large groups of teenage boy racers congregate to race their cars, tear up the roads, and show off to their friends. Sadly too often these boy racers are involved in roading accidents. Just the other week a starter for an illegal drag race in Mount Manganui was killed after a boy racer ploughed into him. Too many people cannot control these beasts of power, resulting in devastating consequences for all involved.

A leading expert on the study of boy racers, Ashley Yakas, believes that “To put a stop to the racers we need to put power limits on vehicles. There’s no need for the speed and power of a big rumbling v8 packed with unlimited grunt, when the 1600cc Japanese cars get us from A to B using half the gas. ” On the other hand, why does New Zealand have such a low driving age? In comparison to other developed countries, New Zealand has a terrible system of public transport. In many smaller cities such as New Plymouth, public transport is almost non-existent. Busses are irregular or stop in awkward locations, and taxi fares are very expensive.

It is because of this that our driving age needs to be so low. Without the legal driving age being what it is, many youths would find it extremely difficult to get themselves anywhere. Thus putting unwanted pressure and hassle on both the youths and their caregivers. The New Zealand public has many roads in which they may travel down in response to the low driving age. Raising the legal driving age is the most simple solution. Placing power limits on cars for youth drivers would help to solve the problems that are created by boy racers and would hopefully decrease the number of accidents caused by speed.

Implementing longer transitional periods between learners, restricted, and full licenses and making defensive driving courses compulsory will give the younger drivers more experience and the results will show, with far less drivers making inexperienced and dangerous calls whilst in their cars. Also implementing larger fines for young drivers who break the rules of their license category will discourage the youths from making the risky decisions that so many of them make.

These are some of the many choices that may be made regarding New Zealand’s low driving age and almost any decision will benefit the public of New Zealand and will help to keep the youth drivers under control. New Zealand has the lowest legal driving age in the entire Western world. With our country roads and tough driving conditions, it is not at all appropriate for New Zealand to lead the way in letting young drivers on the road. New Zealand needs to step up and make a change by raising the driving age.

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Kylie Garcia

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