September 12, 2014

The reason young people are so rubbish at driving is not simply down to abnormally high levels of residual postaural dampness. It goes much deeper than that, argues Ken Bowelling of Driver Risk Mangement in this week’s Feet News. Young ‘uns are dangerous behind the wheel because their brains are wrong.

Whereas normal people generally try to avoid taking unnecessary risks, young people get some kind of sick thrill from ‘just doing it’ behind the wheel. “Ha. Ha. Ha. YOLO!” they habitually yell as they run red lights at 100 miles an hour, egged on by their ‘up for it’ “mates”.

With an effect precisely opposite to that of their self-glorifying accounts of amatorial adventure, “changes” in young people’s prefrontal cortices, Bowelling says, “exaggerate their lack of experience.” In other words, the front bits of kids’ brains make them drive like they have even less idea what they’re doing than is actually the case.

Another problem is that young people typically assume the entire world revolves around them. This can seriously compromise their ability to carry out manoeuvres such as cornering and negotiating roundabouts. Self-obsession, Bowelling claims, also makes it hard for young people to “see things from other people’s perspective.” Quite literally, he explains, they imagine that “‘if I can see them, they can see me’, which, as an adult,” he says, “we know isn’t always true.”

Most worryingly of all, however, Mr B reveals that youngsters wrong-headed brains are actually wired to unleash intense waves of physical pleasure each time they commit some absurdly reckless act of motoring folly and live to tell the tale. “The limbic system within the brain,” he says, “becomes active when risks are taken. There is literally a reward system for risks.”

Clearly young people are a menace. Bowelling goes on to argue that the solution is not an outright ban but subjecting youngsters to road safety training, which, not uncoincidentally, it turns out, is what he’s selling.

But, as  you and I, of course, both know perfectly well, Dear Reader, the only truly safe and sane solution is wait until their aberrant brains start working properly before allowing young people behind the wheel. Say around 23 to err on the side of caution.

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