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The age to drive - from Jamaica to Britain

Published:Thursday | February 11, 2010 | 2:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

Eager to drive? Well, you have to wait until you are 18 - the earliest age a person can be granted a driver's licence in Jamaica.

However, when you reach 17, you may be allowed to drive under supervision.

According to a spokesperson at the licensing department, a (learner's) provisional driver's licence can be issued to persons aged 17. At 18, you can do the test to get a driver's licence, which will be granted after successful completion of the test.

In the United States, the rule is less stringent. There, a 14-year-old is allowed to drive, but only under supervision. After that, at around 15, you are granted a 'restricted' licence that allows you to drive to and from school, and to your job if you have one. At 16, you may be granted a driver's licence that allows you to drive wherever you want.

In the United Kingdom, it is a bit more complicated, with different ages for various categories of vehicles. For example, at age 16, you are allowed to ride mopeds with engine sizes up to 50cc, which can go up to speeds not exceeding 50kph. You have to be 17 before you can drive four-wheel vehicles.

This information relates to persons who got their driver's licences after January 1, 1997. One has to pass the theoretical and practical driving tests to be granted a licence. At age 16, you can do the theory and will have to do the practical within two years to be granted a driving permit, or you will have to resit the theory section.

In Barbados, you can take the regulations test at age 16. Passing that only grants you a learner's permit.

At 18, you may apply for a driver's licence.

Visitors to Barbados have to be 21 to rent and drive a car in that country. They must also hold a valid licence from their home country, and will have to purchase a Barbados driver's licence for BDS$10.