"19 to 24 year olds could be banned from driving at night"Initially taking this as meaning that government were actually planning such a law, I did that open-mouthed 'look-incredulously-at-the-radio-in-case-it-was-a-hallucination' thing, followed by the rather loud rhetorical question "you fucking what?"
First thoughts immediately jumped back to Clegg's speech yesterday afternoon where he spoke of "the job of government is not to run people's lives. It is to help people to run their own". So it was a relief to find out that this was merely the Beeb borrowing a Daily Mail headline writer for the morning. In reality, it's merely yet another example of public-funded, precautionary principle, rent-seeking.
Newly qualified young drivers should be banned from night-time motoring and carrying passengers of a similar age, Cardiff University researchers say.The customary scary numbers are rolled out, accompanied by the ubiquitous cautionary qualifier, 'could', but as usual they are not shown in context.
They said such "graduated driver licensing" for those aged 17-19 could save more than 200 lives and result in 1,700 fewer serious injuries each year.
The last figures I can find for total driving licence holders by age are from 2007, where DVLA state that there are just over 2 million held by those 20 and under. This includes provisional licences so let's halve that to a million, and let's be conservative and say that these drivers only venture out one evening a week. It still adds up to over 50 million car journeys per year, or 100 million if you count outward and return trips.
So the study referenced is talking about cutting out every single one of these successful journeys because 0.0004% of them go horribly wrong - about the same chance as being struck by lightning.
On the pretext that "just one life lost is too many", these joyless researchers would collectively punish every young driver in the country, by depriving them of the overwhelming sense of freedom all of us felt when we first held that full licence in our hands. Not only that, but all the youthful romantic evenings facilitated by a car, all the friendships fostered, all the networking which doesn't involve slumping in front of Facebook, even the joy of just driving to McDonalds with a friend for a milk shake and a chat.
No other solution will do, it has to be a comprehensive ban on night driving and transporting friends. All teens to be legally grounded on the orders of the risk-averse.
One has to wonder if the grey-souled, hand-wringing nannies who dreamed up such a recommendation can remember being young themselves ... or if, indeed, they ever were.