Looking back, I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I wanted to be a teenager again.
Who on earth would want to return to an era of raging hormones, crippling anxiety, poverty and servitude when the only advantages that I can see would be a smaller waistline and an ability to knock back just a little bit too much booze or stay up beyond midnight and not pay the bitter price for the following 48 hours?
The attractions of callow youth seem to be fading fast.
These days you have to stay in school longer, you can’t afford to leave home, entitlement to benefits is being chopped back, if you want to go to uni you have to shoulder a mountain of debt, and there’s still all the aforementioned anxiety and uncertainty to deal with. No thank you very much, once was more than enough.
And it gets worse – proposals are now on the table which will bump up the age at which teenagers can get behind the wheel.
It’s 17 at the moment, but road safety experts rightly point to the high proportion of younger drivers who are involved in serious shunts and want that raised.
The idea is to hike that age to 18, and at the same time only allow new drivers a sort of ‘running in’ qualification for the first year.
That would see them banned from giving their friends a lift or driving at night for 12 months after they pass their test.
New motorists could also face a lower drink-drive limit and a ban on using a hands-free mobile phone for a year, regardless of their age.
It all makes sense to me, to be fair, even if the number of young drivers must already be substantially reduced by the mechanisms of the free market.
Anyone who can afford enough driving lessons at upwards of £25 a pop so that they pass their test at 17 in the first place, and can then afford the crippling insurance they can expect to pay, is most likely spoiled rotten by indulgent parents and needs watching – they’re an accident waiting to happen.
The vast majority will be making hard choices between lessons, further education or just putting food on the table.
I like the idea of restrictions on driving at night and on piling your mates in – you don’t need to be a road safety genius to know that unfamiliar conditions and the distractions of other people in the car could be fatal. But why not go the whole hog? Surely the newbies should also be forced to leave the car at home when it’s raining, when there’s fog, when snow and ice turn the roads into skating rinks?
There is one useful caveat in these proposals, though. Young drivers will be able to venture out after 10pm as long as they have an experienced motorist, aged 30 or over, in the car with them.
I like the idea of a designated non-driver for purely selfish reasons.
I don’t get out much these days, but when I do the cost of a cab home can be crippling.
I will be more than happy to make myself available, by arrangement, but there will have to be certain conditions.
The music on the car stereo will have to be my choice, I obviously don’t want to be out after midnight for reasons already stated, and my driver will have to be happy to stop off at the kebab shop on the way back to my place.