According to recent statistics, younger drivers encounter more road accidents. However, experts insist that focusing on road experience as compared to a minimum age restriction is a more effective solution.
Upon dropping his last Uber clients, Lance said that his customers get “scared” when they see their youthful Uber drivers fixated on their GPS apps throughout the entire journey.
The 40-year-old night time and weekends driver shared that his clients often recount their negative experiences with young Uber drivers. The passengers claim that many younger drivers are unfamiliar with the roads, sp they rely overly on GPS.
Lance added that he believes he is a safer driver because of his many (19) years of experience on the road.
A grisly fatal accident involving a 22-year-old Uber driver on 9th July 2017, generated a series of concerns regarding young drivers in the private-hire car industry, including whether they are experienced enough and have the necessary skills to safely transport passengers. The driver is reported to have lost control and run into a tree, killing his passenger. This was the third fatal accident that involved an Uber driver.
Does Age Really Matter?
These road incidents have sparked a debate on whether companies like Uber and Grab should have an age requirement for their younger drivers.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan stated in January that drivers of the private cars for hire are expected to own at least 2 years’ experience in driving and that this is resonably sufficient.
He added that discrimination based on age is not necessary, and believes that when it comes to safety, years of experience in driving is more important compared to age.
On the other hand, supporters of the age restriction point out statistics that indicate that younger people are more prone to getting involved in an accident. This could also be attributed to the fact the younger adults tend to be more impulsive.
At a press release in December 2016 Manik Bucha, Singapore’s AIG head of auto insurance, shared that individuals who utilize rental vehicles for business purposes spend a lot of time driving them, most of these individuals are younger drivers whose probability of having an accident is twice as high compared to the average accident rate. An earlier survey conducted by the company also found consistent results – young drivers are more likely to display dangerous behavior (e.g. using mobile phones to text or call or surf the net, checking GPS) while driving compared to the average driver.
AIG added that the presence of car-sharing and private-car hire companies is influencing the way risk is underwritten by insurers..
About 1/4 of drivers at both Grab and Uber Singapore are younger than 30 years old. Grab has stipulated Grab drivers need to be at least 21 years old while Uber does not have a minimum age restriction.
Experts Say Age Should Not Matter
Under the new laws, cars for private-hire are required to display labels at the front as well as the back of the car. This is to enable travelers to distinguish such services and protect commuters.
Drivers are required to first attend a course to attain a valid Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational License (PDVL).
The reason for establishing these laws is to ensure that drivers have adequate knowledge and skills to safely transport commuters. However, the government ruled out age restriction as yet another criterion.
The Minister for Transport Khaw as well as Transport Expert Mr. Gopinath Menon both agreed that age is no issue. The experience that one has in driving is what is most important.
However, Mr. Menon, a senior researcher at Nanyang Technological University, pointed out that even though 2 years’ experience is a requirement, there is no way to check if the driver has had 2 years of consistent experience on the road. He went further and added, “age is not an issue; drivers should instead be asked for some proof to indicate they have driven consistently, whether they had driven their parents’ vehicle or owned a vehicle.”
Is Technology Able to Sufficiently Promote Safety?
The two leading private-car hire companies mentioned that they are using technology innovations to promote safer rides for their users.
Uber Singapore posits that they take safety for all their users very seriously. To ensure safety, Uber stated that is recently released new safety features in their drivers’ app. For instance, the driver gets messages in his app informing him to mount his phone onto the dashboard.
The speed of acceleration, how hard the driver brakes and the driver’s speed are also displayed in the app.
On the other hand, Grab introduced telematics to monitor as well as reduce speeding via the app. This move saw a 35% drop in the number of speeding incidents in Southeast Asia. Grab also added that they now track further indicators of behaviors related to unsafe driving such as sudden acceleration, dangerous swerving, and hard braking. Grab also added that drivers who demonstrated multiple acts of dangerous driving are asked to retake the training classes and, or are suspended.
Accidents are something that no one hopes to get into. But, as the word suggest, one does not intentional get into an accident. Hence, it is crucial to be equipped with knowledge on how to reduce the chances of car accidents, and what to do if we meet with a car accident.
What are your thoughts? Should a minimum age be imposed? Should drivers be required to demonstrate consistent driving? What safety measures do you think should be put in place to minimize private car accidents, especially among young drivers?
This article was first published on CNA.