TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Chen Jian-yu, minister for Transportation and Communications, yesterday emphasised that he would never approve lowering the minimum driving age to sixteen, in response to questions.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) sent out a letter last week to local governments, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and parent organisations, asking them to evaluate the possibility of lowering the minimum driving age to 16.
The letter was only intended to be a consultation, Chen stressed, and said that lowering the driving age was not government policy. "Young adolescents lack the necessary emotional stability to handle driving, and driving in more rural areas is more dangerous as well," Chen said.
At yesterday morning's conference held to update the press ahead of Tomb Sweeping Day, Chen said that at a previous conference session for scooter drivers, experts had brought up the idea that students could drive scooters instead of walking. By going through the necessary training, it could also reduce the number of collisions among student drivers, the experts had suggested.
Emphasis on Public Transportation
Chen said that using intercity buses to transport students to and from schools and encouraging them to take public transportation rather than riding scooters is his major policy goal during his term as legislator.
"Approval of a new minimum age goes against what I work for," said Chen.
Directorate General of Highways (DGH) chief Chao Hsing-hua pointed out that intercity school bus use at 10 rural universities is already underway, with goals of increasing bus frequencies and reducing accident rates to below 50 per cent.
The 10 universities include Taitung, Dong hwa, I-shou, Yun-tech, Fo Guang, Ping-tech, Jinwen, Dayeh, Chung Chu and Taitung Jr. College.
An 'act of foolishness': Lee
KMT Legislator Lee Kun-tse said according to the MOTC's report, 3.5 students die in collisions every week and a total of 1,819 people died in traffic accidents last year. Students aged 16 to 24 accounted for the most deaths, while the number of underage unlicensed students who die due to incidents when riding a scooter is 10 times more than any other age group.
"It's foolishness" Lee said, pointing out that the younger the drivers were, the more likely they are to be involved in a fatal collision.