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EU Law Lets French 14-Year-Olds Drive

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April 2, 2015
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For parents in France, the days of their teenage children pestering them for a lift are soon to be over, thanks to an EU ruling on driving licence laws.

In an effort to standardise driving regulations across Europe, EU laws have changed to allow all 14-year-olds to drive light quadricycles, with France being the first nation to apply the ruling.

Being previously limited to scooters from the age of 14 after passing their road safety tests, light quadricycles are a more comfortable, practical and weatherproof alternative for French teenagers.

The vehicle of choice following the ruling is the Renault Twizy 45, a two-seated electric quad that boasts a blistering 5hp and a top speed of 28mph. That might not sound much, but it’s more than fast enough to keep up with inner city traffic and to cruise around urban areas.

EU Law Lets French 14-Year-Olds Drive

Renault Twizy 45

With a range of around 60 miles on a 3-hour charge, and being only 2.34-meters long by 1.24-meters wide and weighing in just below 500kg, the Twizy 45 is perfectly suited to the narrow and busy streets of Paris. Plus, with an airbag, seatbelts, disk brakes and a full car-style chassis, the Twizy is considerably safer than scooters.

More than 15,000 Twizy 45s have been sold in within the EU so far, but being priced at around £5,000, the Twizy is more expensive than both scooters and entry-level cars. The tiny electric car is being pushed by Renault following the law change, and both they and experts are expecting sales to continue to rise from now on, despite the price.

The ruling, as with many EU actions, has fueled both supporters and opponents within France and across Europe. Proponents of the change have suggested that putting 14-year-olds on the road in low-powered cars will provide valuable on-road training, which will lead to drivers having more experience when they do eventually move on to larger vehicles.

The law’s critics, however, have questioned the sense behind putting such young drivers in control of larger vehicles – vehicles that could cause considerably more damage in a collision than a scooter, all with the bare minimum of driving tuition too.

FranceIn a broader sense, many anti-EU sources have again questioned whether the EU should implement sweeping cross-border rulings, especially in cases where they might not be needed or wanted.

Coming in the wake of another EU ruling about how vehicle insurance might work in the UK in the future  the new change has raised concerns for some that 14-year-olds might soon be allowed on British roads too. However, due to the UK’s minimum age for driving licences being 16, we’re unlikely to see anyone younger in a Twizy this side of the Channel any time soon.

How do you feel about the ruling, would it make you feel more or less safe on the road in France?

Would you welcome the change coming into force in the UK too, or are you happy with the current rules?

Let us know in the comments below.

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