Time to ban teens from driving?
Most teenagers cannot wait to get behind the wheel of a car and who can blame them? Driving is convenient, grown-up and, once you've got the hang of it, good fun too.
The trouble is most young motorists, with obvious exceptions like Lewis Hamilton, are simply not very good at it.
Car crashes remain the biggest killer of teenagers and people aged in their twenties in Britain. So what is to be done?
There have been a number of calls to make the driving test harder in order to improve drivers' skills. The Association of British Insurers has called for a minimum 12-month learning period in order to boost the skills of young drivers.
But has the time come for more radical measures? Should we consider raising the legal driving age to 19 or even 21?
The statistics concerning young drivers make sobering reading:
Every day, four people are killed or seriously injured in accidents involving young drivers.
Eight out of ten accidental deaths involving young men occur on the road.
17 -20 year old males are almost ten times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than more experienced motorists.
One in four passengers who have been seriously injured were travelling with a young driver at the time.
So, on the surface, raising the driving age seems an attractive proposition. There would be fewer cars on the road and people living near schools with sixth forms might be able to park outside their homes during term time.
Teenagers would be encouraged to walk or bike more, so general fitness levels should rise. And, of course, less of their (and their parents') disposable income would find its way into the clutches of insurance companies.
But there are pitfalls too. The number of youngsters taking to the road without a licence or insurance would surely rise and, anyway, how are they to become more experienced road users if they are not allowed to drive?
It also might prove politically problemative to take away something that has been open to older generations for decades - the freedom to drive at 17.
But surely we could do more to make it safer. The current driving test is OK as far as it goes but where is the instruction for driving on motorways, at night, on twisty rural roads, or in icy conditions?
These elements could be incorporated into a more comprehensive driving test - but the danger would remain that inexperienced youngsters might forget their tuition through the sheer relief and exhilaration at passing their test.
Perhaps there should be a two-part test. The current test would become part one and entitle youngsters to take to the road legally - perhaps with P plates to indicate their provisional status.
New drivers would then have, say, 12 months to pass the second element of the test, which would examine how they had matured as a driver.
It would feature driving on motorways and in adverse weather conditions. All novice drivers would have to spend a few hours at a skid pan to familiarise themselves with how cars behave in slippery conditions - surely be no bad thing? The tips picked would not just help them through the second part of the test, they might save their lives one day.
There could also be a limit on how many passengers a novice driver can carry. When you are inexperienced behind the wheel it's difficult enough to concentrate on the road as it is without having a car full of mates shouting at you - assuming they can make themselves heard over the hip hop din booming out of the speakers.
Then there's the sheer cost of motoring. In itself this ought to be sufficient deterrent to teenagers looking to learn to drive. But is it?
The 17-year-old son of a colleague was very much looking forward to taking to the road after passing his driving test at the first time of asking - until he found out how much it was going to cost him.
His astute dad had bought him a car for