I was reading Politis newspaper online today, when my eyes fell on this new prospective law that was discussed in the Cyprus Parliament. Two members of the Parliament proposed that we change the legal driving age in Cyprus from 18 to 17. Of course, that extra year, from 17 to 18 the acquirer of the new driving license would have to drive with an adult in the car. Their reasoning was that countries like the U.S, UK, Norway, Sweden and France have this law and they have fewer accidents per capita than Cyprus.
And here come my objections/ questions:
It is very naïve and very wrong to compare Cyprus with the U.S, the U.K, Norway and France. One cannot compare only one variable (in this case driving age) to examine the relationship with another variable (accidents per capita). There are a number of factors that play a major role in the number of accidents in a country.
Firstly, there is a major difference in terms of road infrastructure. Cyprus does not have the road infrastructure that U.S and U.K have. Thinking of accidents in Cyprus, a majority of them happen in streets that connect villages. These are usually roads without signs, and with very dangerous turns, and very narrow streets.
A second objection is the fact that the new drivers will have to drive with an adult in the car for the first year. As much as I would like to believe it, I can only see this happening for about a week if not less. Call it Cypriot attitude, call it Cypriot culture, call it whatever you want, I think that after the first week most parents would be very busy to ride in the car with their son/ daughter.
A third objection is the process of acquiring a drivers license in Cyprus. OK, the truth is that I have no proof, but I have heard of a lot of people that who have gotten their drivers license in an envelope. Why would we want to put more dangerous, inexperienced, immature drivers in the streets?
Fourth, why would we want to put more cars in the street? I can’t really project how much of a problem that would be (probably minimal) but in an already overcrowded with cars country, why do we want more people driving? The effort should be to push more people to ride the buses (that currently do not exist).
Fifth, there is another issue with the attitude towards Cyprus policing. Despite any laws and the consequences, Cypriots have a tendency to not see police as a strict regulatory body and will not care much of breaking any laws (e.g 17 year olds driving on their own).
Last but not least, 40% of the accidents happen in the age 15-24. If we pass this law are we really ready to put in practice what we say? Do we have the regulations, can the parents adopt their responsibilities, can the police control the 17 year olds? Will that extra year give them the required experience to decrease the number of accidents? Or will the extra year increase the number of accidents?
You can’t really build a beautiful house by start painting it first. You have to put the bricks and the cement, and the roof and then maybe you should start thinking of the color.