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Apr 30, 2013

Driving age in Israel to be lowered

The age for obtaining a drivers license is being lowered in Israel. As of July 1, the new age will be 16 years old and 9 months.

The Economics Committee has approved the plan of Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz to make it possible to get a drivers license at the younger age. The age is only being dropped by 3 months, but the new age will come with other changes as well.

In Chicago when I got my drivers license, we were able to get a learners permit at the age of 15. We could only drive with escorts over 18 who had their own licenses for over x number of years. We then took a drivers ed course, and at 16 we could go for the license exam.

Now in Israel there will be a similar system of a learners permit of sorts. At 16 and 9 months, one can get a license (as of July 1) by going to take an initial test. the license given will only allow, for a period of 6 months,  driving with an escort. The driving with an escort period will also bear additional requirements - it will require a total of 50 hours driven, over the course of the 6 months. Of those 50 hours, 20 hours will have to have been on city roads, 15 hours on intercity roads, and 15 hours at night. The first 3 months of the period will require the escort both by day and night, while the latter 3 months will require the escort accompaniment only at night.

At the end of the 6 months, the driver will have to bring a signed statement from the escort (and signed by himself as well) stating the completion of the 50 hours. Upon completion, the driver will be granted his permanent license.
(source: Reshet TV)

One might question whether it is smart to lower the minimum driving age, but I think when coupled with increasing the requirements and time period for driving with an escort, it is a good idea. Statistics have shown that young drivers are involved in less accidents when driving with the escort than when driving without. Extending the escort period to 6 months, might do a lot in helping to teach the young drivers about driving responsibly.

In the committee meeting deciding this, the representative of the students council expressed his opposition. One would think the younger age would be attractive to students, but they do not like the increased requirements of driving with an escort. The rep said that it is already difficult enough to find the time to drive with the escort - parents have such little time available, and the requirement is currently only 3 months. Finding 50 hours over 6 months will be impossible, he says.

Others opposing the concept claim the State will have no way of enforcing these escort rules, and the entire thing will be a big bluff. There is also the question of who will be considered a valid escort. Perhaps people with serious traffic violations should be excluded, but it seems they have no way of excluding such people and anybody over the age of 24 bearing a license for at least 5 years will likely be considered a valid escort.
(source: Ynet)

As a teenager I would love this change. As a parent of teenagers, I think it is good, but I hope my kids do not see this news announcement (or blog post).

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