Young people should leave school with their Leaving Certificate completed and a full drivers’ license achieved, according to independent TD Michael Healy Rae.
His advice comes following a survey that found almost eight-in-ten (77%) Irish people think 16 is too young to drive.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast today, Deputy Healy Rae said he’s “open” to letting 16-year-olds drive – especially since they’re already driving on Irish roads.
“You must remember 16-year-olds are allowed to drive on public roads - they can drive agricultural vehicles,” he said.
“A 16-year-old is entitled to sit up on a tractor, a very large load, and be able to drive on the road.”
People aged 16 and over are allowed to drive "work vehicles" that do not exceed 40 kilometres per hour.
Voting at 16
The TD also pointed out that the Electoral Commission is currently reviewing potential changes to election rules, including lower the legal voting age to 16.
“That's a very serious thing, it’s a big responsibility, to give someone the right to vote,” he said.
“If we’re doing that, perhaps we should look at a lot of other things.”
Educating young people
Deputy Healy Rae said he has been a “long-time” advocate of educating young people on the rules of the road in school curriculums.
“Young people, when they leave school, should leave with their Leaving Cert in one hand and their full driving license in the other hand,” he said.
“We might educate people that driving a car is one of the most important things they can do.”
The Kerry TD admitted there are some safety concerns about handing licences to younger people, especially considering the increase in deaths on Irish roads this year.
“I would have to say I have a worry of a person of 16 being able to 120pkh on the motorway,” he said.
“I think that if we change the whole way we look at young people and driving – for instance if the very second they go to secondary school, we have it in the curriculum – there’s an argument to be made [to let them drive].
“They have to know the rules of the road, they have to respect other drivers and know how dangerous a car is.
“We have to let our young people grow up.”
The Peopl Insurance survey also found 23% of people said reducing the age could offer young people more independence and experience.
People between the ages of 21-24 (31%) were most likely to support letting 16-year-olds drive.
Main image: Teenager driving car with adult sitting in passenger seat. Image: Daisy-Daisy / Alamy Stock Photo