• Jul 28th 2010 at 7:57PM
  • 82
Albert Einstein has commonly been quoted as saying that stupidity (or insanity, depending on your source) is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Which begs the question, with over 100 years of traffic enforcement behind us, why are we still relying on the same methods of catch and punish to modify driver behavior? If it hasn't worked over the last century, chances are it won't work over the next. But Australian V8 Supercar champ Jamie Whincup has come up with a zany idea that just might cut down on his country's driving death toll – education.

In a move likely to draw some knee-jerk guffaws, Whincup is calling for driver's education to begin at 12 years-old. The tweens in question wouldn't actually be behind the wheel, but would begin to receive lessons on the components of a car, the effect of drugs and alcohol on your ability to operate a vehicle and the consequences of excess speed. We're not entirely sure the average pre-teen is going to be able to wrangle enough synapses away from Hanna Montana to make a difference, but we're all for improved driver education as a means of improving road safety.

Have a look at the story below, then chime in with your own opinion by taking our poll and leaving your thoughts in Comments.

When should driver's ed begin?
Ages 21 and older 901 (5.2%)
Ages 18-20 3182 (18.4%)
Ages 16-17 5033 (29.1%)
Ages 12-15 5131 (29.6%)
From the womb! 3063 (17.7%)

[Source: Drive | Image: Matchbox]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      At age 12, I thought a Supra with 1000hp was awesome and so was the whole Fast-and-the-Furious tuner scene. So yes to theory, no to actual behind-the-wheel.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My 2-year old already watches Top Gear religiously and says the phrases, "1, 2, 3, GO!" as well as "POWERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Not yet. But he does repeat James May's favorite phrase.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's amazing. When a chicane is coming up and you're driving, does he say "INTO THE HAMMERHEAD!"?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I believe you should begin to learn to drive when you are 12-14. My brother and I have never been in a collision or any form of an accident in the 10 years he has been driving and the 3 that I have been and I think learning from Gran Turismo really helped us out.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Honestly; it still is up to the parents teaching skills, and the experiences had by said tweens/teens; ie - what they observe everyone else doing = okay in most teens minds' if they can get away with it, they'll try it.

      If you think about it; someone who grew up in the city (like my father) is likely to drive worse than someone from a rural city (my boyfriend). My father is the typical city driver, where he's driving with his brights on half the time, and seriously doesn't know it, veers in and out of traffic lanes, dives into the next lane when turning with no signal, and can't keep a constant speed; which is a typical driver in California.

      My boyfriend on the other hand, drives with a decent distance away from people, stays in the same lane unless that person is going INSANELY slower, and uses the left lane to pass; and once he does so, gets back over in front of said slow driver.

      It's a difference in setting that could be the key to this too; rural driving, you have to be careful of the surroundings; in the city, you have to as well, but those surroundings are more often other people than nature itself (ie, deer in the road, etc.) Being taught how to drive off the road-ways would be the best bet, IMO; and young. The more it's seen as something 'normal', hard to do, earned, etc.. and not pure "do what you want once you get your license", as it is here in the US. I also think the manual transmission really would help drive that issue too. Learning on a stick shift, is a great way to get kids to focus on the driving, not on the phone. I didn't answer my phone when I was driving, because I was shifting.. etc.

      I'm ending this here, because it would be like a 2 page thing of my inner thoughts on the subject.. lol
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think that age should have NOTHING to do with it. If you're 8 and have adequate skill with vehicle control and traffic management, you should be allowed on the road (with parental consent and liability of course). But by the same token, if you're 35 and incompetent you should be taken off the road.

      The keys are training and enforcement, not age.
      • 5 Years Ago

      You should see my two year old parallel park his cozy car......and yes I'm 100% serious.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It would help, at least here in the states, if they provided better training and education no matter the age. So many people have no idea what a blinker is, understand right of way, slower traffic right, et al et al.

      It seems that driving is viewed as a right rather than a privileged to be earned so education is kept purposely weak. Or maybe it would help if highway patrol were interested in more than people going 5mph over the speed limit.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Should start learning earlier, but shouldn't be allowed until later in life. The process in the United States is just way to easy for people. There are just so many irresponsible and incapable drivers on the roads.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I started at 10.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My dad was a test driver/mechanic at Chrysler's Proving grounds (in other words a very thoroughly trained professional driver). He started taking me driving when I was jus shy of 14. He didn't stop giving me driving instruction until I was 18. I think an early start helped but the constant reinforcement (or nagging as I saw it) was probably more important. I also went out on my own and made some good learning experiences of my own. The advantage in this early start program would mostly be the Constant reinforcement of good driving behavior. Thats what makes good drivers. It wont matter when they start if they don't have good teaching and plenty of it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Where I grew up we went through Driver's Education the summer before our freshman year of high school at age 13. Everyone had their permits by 14 that were good between 6am-8pm and fully liscensed by 16. It's surprising it isn't that way everywhere.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Where in this article does it say you'd be sharing the road with 14 year olds?

        "The tweens in question wouldn't actually be behind the wheel, but would begin to receive lessons on the components of a car, the effect of drugs and alcohol on your ability to operate a vehicle and the consequences of excess speed."

        The idea is that kids would get more education before they get their license. Instead of handing them a permit at 15 and telling them they can drive after only a year of education.

        I think drivers education should start at 14, and licenses should be given out at 17. That leaves 3 years of practice, and limits the amount of kids on the road.
        • 5 Years Ago
        All sorts of people are dangers to themselves and others on the road, it's not unique to teens and 14 is certainly mature enough to operate a motor vehicle with proper education (which is key to everything really and seemingly harder to provide in this country).

        But anyway, the ed I went through was provided by my K-12 school over a few weeks that summer. They taught us just about everything about driving, emergency maneuvers, hazardous weather conditions and normal light maintence like checking fluids. We had to put on spares too, even the girls. I had worked on a relative's farm summers before that and was already used to driving half-ton trucks and implements so it wasn't a big deal for me (in fact children younger than 14 could legally operate such machinery on public roads where I lived).

        Looking back on it I'm sure it was better than what is provided in many other parts of the country. I have relatives that are in their late teens and still can't drive when I had been driving for four to five years at that same age and had that experience under my belt. I find that amazing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        That sounds like a sensible Idea TriShield. Here in Australia (particularly New South Wales) road rules are seemingly constructed to completely discourage any form of active safety, which essentially is saying "No matter what happens on the road, you should just have an accident". I'm not going to go into any further details because I'll just rant on and on for pages and pages about how little thought has gone into the road rules of Australia.

        But back to licensing + education. There is very little driver education taught here that is endorsed by government motoring bodies and the school system. You have to wait until you're 16.5 to go for your learners permit, and then have to do a prescribed amount of hours. While I only had to do 50 (and don't at all argue with this) it's been pushed up to 150 and now they're talking about upping it to 220 hours.

        Now if you were in my situation where you had no access to a car, you had to pay a driving school, which varies from $60-$80 per hour these days. Just to put that into perspective, that means learners incur a cost between $13,200 - $17,600. And just to put that into perspective...well lets be honest I'm pretty sure most of us could figure out a few things to do with that money.

        Kudos to Zach for reporting on this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        No way in hell do I want to share the roads with a 14 year old. The truth is the majority of them are irresponsible drivers and a danger to themselves and others on the road. The current system seems to be working fine for the most part.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Agreed. I don't think kids should be on public roads before 16, but having training from 12 in a controlled environment just on using car controls and situational awareness is a great idea. Allowing more time to hammer in the basics of driving will leave less to chance when they do first get out on the open road.
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