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    Teenage Passenger Risk

    The association of British Insurers (ABI) has just published a report claiming that young drivers are three times as likely to have a fatal crash if they're driving with friends, than they would be if driving alone.According to the TimesOnline, the risk is highest during the first 30 weeks after a teenager has passed their test. After that period the danger is halved. The ABI says that 270 deaths or serious injuries a year would be prevented by a law limiting drivers aged under 20 to carrying no more than one teenage passenger for the first six months after they qualify.This type of law would be tricky to enforce - it's not always easy to deduce the age of a young person standing in front of you, so judging passengers in a moving vehicle is likely to take up a lot of traffic police time and result in plenty of mistakes. The department for transport thinks making the driving test more rigorous would be much more practical and effective.But the evidence suggesting this new law would be the best course of action is compelling. Apparently several US states have now limited the number of passengers a teen driver can have in the first six or twelve months, and on average the number of fatal crashes fell by 37%. Young people will always be heavily influenced by their peers. Pushing boundaries and showing off is all part of being a teenager, along with the ability to feel invincible. Whatever rules are set in place to protect them, that will never change.Perhaps the best way to reduce the problem of dangerous behaviour on the roads is to raise the minimum legal driving age. Britain is one of the only EU countries to allow 17 year-old motorists to hold a full driving licence. The government is already reviewing proposals to increase the minimum age to 18, which it's claimed could prevent 1,000 deaths and serious injuries, plus up to 7,000 casualties per year. This could, however, have a negative impact on the rural economy (70% of all 17 year-old motorists drive themselves to work in these areas).I'd be interested to hear anyone's thoughts on this subject. Do you think it's a good idea to raise the driving age to 18? Should it be even higher, or is it unfair to penalise all young people just because a few reckless ones spoil it for everyone else? Do you have any better ideas of how to tackle this problem?

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