Minister to raise minimum age for moped riders
9 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The minimum age at which teens may ride a moped or scooter in the Netherlands will be raised from 16 to 17 under legislative plans unveiled by Transport Minister Karla Peijs on Friday.
The change is expected to reduce the relatively high and rising number of deaths from accidents involving mopeds. The minister intends to have the new law come into affect in 2006, news agency ANP reported.
The plans are part of a series of measures designed to improve traffic safety, and Minister Peijs has announced she intends to investigate the possibility of reducing the age youths can take driving lessons to 17. It is hoped that youths will skip the “moped phase”.
And people who already have a driver’s licence will face in future stricter conditions to maintain the validity of the licence. Anyone aged 45 and above will be obligated to undergo an eye test and refresher courses will be offered on a trial basis.
The existing pink-coloured driver’s licence will also be replaced in coming years with a credit card-style licence, such as those used in other parts of the globe.
The minister’s plans to improve traffic safety are expected to save the lives of about 54 people each year and reduce the number of injured being admitted to hospital by 1,500, newspaper De Telegraaf reported.
The plans are calculated to cost EUR 78 million per year, but society is expected to be financially advantaged on an annual basis to the tune of EUR 402 million.
Traffic safety organisation 3VO is happy that “the minister has stuck her neck out”, but would have preferred the minimum age for moped riders to be increased to 18. It said 17 deaths per year would be avoided by the proposed change, but raising the legal age to 18 would have saved 44 deaths per year.
Motorists association ANWB was also critical of the fact that the minimum age will not be raised to 18 and said the age limit had been relatively arbitrarily chosen. A spokesman also feared the 16-year-olds will still use a moped because many of them need one for transport, nu.nl reported.
Government coalition party Liberal VVD said the increase in the minimum age for moped riders was unwise, with MP Pieter Hofstra saying many youths need the moped to travel to and from work or school, especially in rural areas.
“We think the mobility of youths is important. Traffic safety must improve, but without affecting mobility,” he said.
Hofstra said police should conduct more checks for the use of helmets or whether mopeds have been tinkered with to make them travel faster.
Main government party Christian Democrat CDA and the largest opposition party, Labour PvdA, has raised doubts about the increased minimum age. Only opposition party GroenLinks has fully backed the transport minister’s proposal.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news