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Cedric Stephens Driver’s licence does not equate to driving skill

Q UESTION: My 19-year-old daughter got her driver’s licence two months ago. She asked to borrow my car for a north coast trip with friends. I’m reluctant to do so. Doesn’t the new Road Traffic Act and Regulations prevent young drivers from using the toll roadways until they attain a certain age and acquire more experience?

– A.A.D., Kingston

RISKS & INSURANCE: The Artificial Intelligence-powered tool in my Internet browser offered the following 87-word explanation when I posed the question what do the words ‘trust your gut’ mean?

“Trusting your gut is a common phrase that means to trust your intuition or instincts. It is often used when you must decide, and you don’t have all the information you need. While it is important to consider all the facts, sometimes your instincts can help guide you in the right direction. However, it is important to remember that your instincts can be influenced by your emotions and biases, so it is a good idea to take a step back and evaluate the situation objectively before deciding.”

Those words capture the essential parts of my response to you: do not lend the car to your daughter, this time.

Road facts

There is nothing in the 161-page Road Traffic Act or the 381-page Road Traffic Regulations that impose restrictions on young and inexperienced persons, like your daughter, who has been granted a driver’s licence by the authorities. These statutory instruments do not say that certain criteria must be met before young and inexperienced drivers are allowed to drive vehicles island wide generally or that they must comply with special conditions before using toll roads.

Young and inexperienced drivers, particularly of the male gender, are statistically more prone to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than other demographic groups.

Motor insurers, as a rule, either exclude coverage for young and inexperienced drivers or impose coverage restrictions when they drive. These measures are designed to say indirectly to parents and other relatives: disclose on a case-by-case basis that young and inexperienced drivers will operate the insured vehicle and pay more premium for the increased risk.

Instructors prepare ‘Learners’ to pass the statutorily required driving test. They do not teach students about the acquisition of lifetime driving skills.

Few instructors, from my observations, conduct driving lessons on narrow rural roads or on high-speed toll roads.

Driving exam vs experience

Some parents mistakenly assume that once their child has passed their driving examination, they have all the required skills to drive vehicles on the public roads. There is no data to support this premise.

If I were in your shoes, I would go on a road trip to the north coast with the young lady in the driver’s seat. Your job would be to observe and provide advice and guidance as determined by the actual, real-time road conditions. Do this a few times and you will find that your daughter will become more confident and improve her driving skills. You may also find that your fears may also begin to lessen.

You will avoid nasty surprises if you include your motor insurer in the plan. Find out beforehand what your policy says about young and inexperienced drivers.

I do not need affirmation from AI that my plan is sound and feasible. I have tested it with my daughter. The outcome could not have been any better. She has driven locally and in the US and has avoided accidents.

Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. For free information or counsel, write to: or

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