Concern over new EU plan to allow 16-year-olds to drive
The new proposal seeks to allow 16-year-olds to drive cars fitted with a speed-limiting device.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has called for the European Commission to cast aside a newly-introduced proposal which would allow children from the age of 16 to drive cars limited to a speed of 45kph.
The ETSC, of which Ireland's Road Safety Authority (RSA) is a member, labelled the proposed legislature changes as "bizarre".
In Ireland, the legal age at which one can begin to drive is 17. However, there have been calls from some politicians representing rural areas to see that age reduced.
These calls to see a decrease in the legal driving age are centred around "addressing mobility issues in remote areas", where public transport is not as readily available when compared to urban centres.
A similar initiative was carried out in Finland back in 2020, when the Scandinavian country allowed 15-year-olds to drive cars up to 60kph. However, this scheme was ultimately scrapped as it was considered illegal under current EU legislation.
Speaking to the new proposal, the ETSC said that "The new rules would allow Finland and any other member state to go ahead with a 'cars for kids' programme, albeit with a lower speed limit and a slightly higher minimum age".
The ETSC also claimed that the European Commission's new proposed policy would allow an even higher weight limit on vehicles deemed suitable for younger drivers, potentially allowing 16-year-olds to drive SUV's so long as the speed was restricted to 45kph.
However, Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae rowed in with his support of the proposal, stating that "it makes perfect common sense for people living in rural areas".
Mr. Healy-Rae went on to add that "There is nothing in the world wrong with it if it would help rural dwellers to live where they are".
Lamenting the current coalition government's stance on cars and transport in general, the Kerry TD was sceptical as to whether or not the ruling parties would back the motion.
"Unfortunately there are some people in government at the moment that would be happier if nobody drove a car as they think we should all be on bikes or even back on horses and carts. But I live in the real world and realise that people living in rural areas have to live, work and get education".
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