NZ is considering whether it ought to change the driving age for youths. The clear motivation is the high number of deaths. My views are that age is not the issue. The issues are:
1. Consequences: Is a teen over the age of 15 years able to know the consequences of their actions. The answer is yes.
2. Driving experience: Does the youth have adequate knowledge of driving, driving conditions, driving safety to go on the road.
3. Values: Does the child have the intellectual maturity to deal with any vulnerabilities that might impact their ability to drive.
Clearly the intellectual maturity is not an issue solely restricted to youths. The problem is that politicians turn complex issues into simple media placards which does not properly respect the rights and interests of people.
We have a situation now where the government unconditionally grants drivers the right to drive on the basis of a limited test - both theory and practice. This test does not adequately reflect the range of driving experience of youths. In addition, the nature of our political system is destined to encourage youths to challenge the authority of police and more broadly the law. Far from achieving 'obedience', unfair law is a call to disregard it, and to treat it with contempt, making an subsequent difficult.
What we know about youths is that they are over-invested in what others are thinking. They don't have a well-developed sense of their own values, their character, their personal identity. That is a problem in a social context, in which they feel compelled to impress people. It is a problem in a context in which a youth is looking for a sense of control. i.e. They are looking for intellectual control, but if they can't get that, they will seek some sense of practical or concrete control, which inadvertedly might mean through driving, for a sense of efficacy they cannot get elsewhere. Most youths know their limits; however in a social or alcoholic-fulled context, these concerns are subdued.