Our current graduated licensing system is a joke. All it teaches kids is that not driving is the best way to get your license. This is just silly. ALL other dangerous activities are regulated on the basis that experience is key to competence. If you want to learn to scuba dive then you scuba dive. If you want to learn to climb rocks then you go out there and climb rocks. When you want to learn to fly you go out and actually fly a plane. You get out there and practice. The measure of someoneís competence is not based on how few accidents they have had but on how much experience they have gained, preferably with as few accidents as possible. The safest climber I know has broken his leg/ankle several times and has lost a toe to frostbite. The safest scuba diver I know has had his regulator fail many times. Mistakes will happen over time. If you have never made a mistake, or had some piece of equipment fail on you, I argue that you are inexperienced regardless of how long you have been doing something. Insurance companies have a totally difference perspective. All an insurance company cares about is the number of accidents over an extended period of time. They can accomplish this either by making an activity safer or by reducing the amount of time spent doing that activity. Sadly it is much easier to stop people from participating than it is to make them participate safely.
The crucible comes when people are forced to participate. This is what happens with young drivers. When you are sixteen, chances are you do not Ďneedí to drive all that much. Nobody thinks twice when a sixteen year old is late for school because he/she did not want to drive in the fog, but very few bosses take fog as an excuse for missing an important morning meeting. We should encourage kids to drive as much as possible while it is still a relatively optional activity. While they are young they arenít, or at least should not be, dependant on a vehicle to get to school/work. As adults many of them will, as I am now, be totally dependant on the mobility of a car/bike. Short of a total revolution in mass transit I donít see this situation changing any time soon.
New Idea for a graduated licensing system:
Kids keep logbooks of their driving history. Each time they drive they record the odometer numbers at the beginning and end of each trip along with start/end times, start/end locations. When they need an adult escort then they get each trip signed by that person. When they donít need an escort then they get the trips signed by the parent/guardian who signed off on their license. This would be easy to enforce. If they are stopped by a cop (as many new drivers are) he can look at their book. If they havenít filled it in properly the cop can yell at/ticket them. Best of all if you are 35 but have never spent more than a couple hours behind the wheel then you canít drive at night. Just like all the other inexperienced drivers out there.
For class five:
Written test: Allows them to drive on non-highways and with an adult. (60kph limit)
After 1000km + 1st road test: Allowed to drive on highways. (80kph limit)
After 2500km + 2ndroad test: Allowed to drive alone during daylight hours, allowed to drive at night only with an adult.
After 5,000km: Allowed to drive alone 24/7 but still have an ĎNí and zero-alcohol.
After 15,000km: Full license.
After 50,000km: An insurance discount?
Ö. More to come tomorrow if people actually care to read this.