THE Transport Ministry is in the midst of reviewing the minimum age for holding a driving licence. Currently, 16 is the minimum age required for a motorcycle licence and 17 for a car licence.
A few years ago, there was a move to lower the age requirement from 16 to 15 years so that more youngsters would be able to have a valid motorcycle driving licence.
This was in response to a media report highlighting that 80% of 117,000 students riding motorcycles to school did not have a valid licence. And most of these students were in the 15-year-old age group.
The motorcycle is the cheapest and most convenient mode of transport to a huge majority of the Malaysian population, and many children below 15 years of age are riding it without a licence.
The problem is motorcyclists are the most vulnerable users of our roads. Statistics from the Road Transport Department show that there are almost 7,000 road fatalities each year with motorcyclists accounting for 65% or 4,200 of these. And 40% of that number are motorcyclists aged between 16 and 25.
According to a Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) report a few years ago, 310 school students were killed and another 84 were critically injured in the first three months of 2015 in motorcycle accidents.
Refusal to wear safety helmets has been identified as the main reason leading to fatalities in crashes involving motorcyclists.
And the alarming fact is that motorcyclists in the 16 to 25 age group do not fasten their helmets properly. They also tend to ride recklessly, weaving in and out of traffic without giving any signals, beating the red light and overtaking on double white lines, among others.
Therefore, the minimum age for a motorcycle licence should be maintained at 16. Those below this age would still be immature and lack the physical and mental capacity to handle motorcycles.
The ideal age would be 18 years for both motorcycle and car licence.