Matt Greenop on motoring

Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Limit power for rookies

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As much as we like to whinge when police scrawl outlandish dollar amounts next to seemingly minimal speed numbers, you've really got to feel for the boys in blue.

There were a couple of cases this week when the Independent Police Conduct Authority cleared officers involved in chases - one in which a 20-year-old died and another when four teens were seriously hurt.

To have your work under the microscope like this must be a harrowing experience, and even though they were following the rules around pursuit, there have been cases where officers have ended up in strife after trying to get nutters who think they're above the law to actually stop.

Given that the average modern family car is capable of twice the legal limit, police have their work cut out for them. Add modified and performance cars and it gets increasingly harder to end a chase without something going badly wrong.

It'd be nice to see cars with big power restricted for young drivers and maybe minimise the risks for the cops, kids and, of course, for you and me.

Restricted licences should be just that - cars with serious power-to-weight ratios should be banned until driving ability has been tested.

I'm not talking about basic driving tests here, either. Any monkey can do a parallel park and check their mirrors a couple of times, often in mummy's gutless auto shopping basket.

The following week they're in a 300kW rice rocket that they've got no real handle on and think they're capable of outrunning police, who have had significant training in driving at high speeds. The cops have got a job to do, and it's with the knowledge that if something goes wrong, they're likely to be facing some sort of inquiry and, if they've put so much as a foot wrong, disciplinary action.

Systems like MyKey, as fitted to the Fiesta ST on the cover, allow parents to set parameters for their teens' on-road activities like top speed and even maximum volume. One day every car will have these sorts of features.

But for the moment, the clever move by our pals in Parliament would be to limit power for youth drivers until they've completed an advanced driving course. There's no substitute for experience, but a bit of useful information can go a long way.

Do you have a better plan? Let us know by commenting on this article below.

- NZ Herald

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