You have probably already heard that from January 2024, applicants at the age of 15.5 will be able to start training at a B driving school, while the person in question will be able to sit behind the wheel with the assistance of a mentor after passing the final exams from the age of 17, but only on territory of the Czech republic. And no, the 17-year-old in question will not have any concessions, the tests and driving will be the same as if it were an 18-year-old individual.

Photo: Police of the Czech Republic

The aim of the L17 system is to reduce the accident rate among young novice drivers.

This voluntary system, called L17, was enforced and comprehensively ensured by the Association of Driving Schools, which brought it to the state ready on a silver platter. Reason? To reduce the alarming number of annual deaths on our roads. Consider that statistically around 500 people die annually in our country as a result of traffic accidents, while in reality there will be more, because according to the statistics, only those who die within 24 hours of its occurrence are considered victims of a traffic accident.

But even if it were only those 500 people, approximately 100 of them are between the ages of 18 and 24. And it is precisely this frightening number that the L17 system is supposed to reduce, while in the states applying L17 it has happened by about 30%. So not 100, but maybe “only” 66 a year. And those are better prospects.

Photo: Jakub Misík

L17 was preceded, for example, by free safe driving courses for young people called Start Driving.

The L17 project did not emerge out of nowhere, but it was preceded, for example, by the free Start Driving safe driving courses for young people, which this year alone trained several thousand young drivers at eight polygons in the Czech Republic. And not only them, but also their parents, driving school instructors or commissioners.

Some interpret the position of mentoring a 17-year-old driver as a replacement for a driving school, but it shouldn’t work that way. The aim of the mentor is to work with the young driver even after driving school and to pass on experience, advice and tips. Usually well-intentioned.

Photo: Association of driving schools

A mentor is not a driving school substitute, more like a mentor/supervisor.

Also, driving does not have to be in the style of a driving school, but the normal involvement of a 17-year-old in traffic. Are you going shopping, to the mountains, to visit your grandparents? A 17 year old can drive. Although you will “drive” with him, you will both use your time and finances much more efficiently than if you were to prepare some separate lessons and wander around the city for nothing.

We remind you that the L17 system is voluntary and the classic driving school system with independent driving from the age of 18 is still in force. You are also certainly asking about responsibility, however, it always falls on the driver, whether he is 17 years old and has a mentor next to him, or 18 years old and driving alone.

How to be a good mentor?

The conditions for obtaining a mentorship are not completely negligible, but they have their own logic. In addition to the fact that an application must be submitted to the relevant transport authority, the following also applies:

  • a mentor doesn’t just have to be a parent or relative, but anyone who meets the conditions
  • the mentor position is approved by the legal representative/parent and the driver himself
  • the mentor himself must agree with the position of the mentor
  • one 17-year-old driver may have a maximum of 4 mentors registered in the driver’s card
  • the mentor must have a clean points account
  • if the mentor receives penalty points during the mentorship, he/she automatically ends as a mentor
  • the mentor must have a group B driver’s license for 10 years or more
  • the mentor must not have lost his driver’s license in the last 5 years (e.g. demerit points, misdemeanor)
  • the mentor must meet the same eligibility conditions as a regular driver (alcohol, health, etc.)

The system goes against the mentors in the case of the L17 project, so it’s not just about the person sitting next to the 17-year-old and riding with them. Nowhere. In addition to the creation of a special brochure for mentors and the website www.autoskolal17.cz, there is also a practical free L17 mobile application available for iOS and Android.

Photo: Association of driving schools

The printed manual costs CZK 99 without shipping. You can buy it on the website www.autoskolal17.cz.

Last but not least, short theoretical and practical courses for mentors will also be opened in driving schools, which will refresh them on the legislation and familiarize them with current trends.

All these information channels will advise the mentor on how to be a good mentor in the vernacular and what, when and how to deal with a newcomer behind the wheel. If you send a novice to Prague on his own for the second hour between trams, he will never go anywhere with you again.

Photo: Association of driving schools

The L17 app for Android and iOS is free.

Thanks to these actively distributed materials, the mentors will learn to push the saw gradually, when it is optimal to start driving first in places with calm and slow traffic, then switch to longer driving, and then involve worse conditions such as rain or night.

With the hours and kilometers driven, it is then possible to test heavy traffic, complex intersections, Prague bogs, Brno road closures, and in other words send a ready-to-use driver to one of the safe driving centers for skid school. If a 17-year-old actively drives, he gathers experience and thus becomes a better driver.

Call Comenius

The mobile application, consecrated by the Czech state, also contains prompts for the young driver to try, for example, refueling, driving into a car wash, using the horn appropriately, filling out an accident report, changing a wheel, calling for assistance or perhaps putting on snow chains.

Photo: Association of driving schools

The app also contains interesting challenges.

Challenges completed and confirmed by a mentor or mentors, kilometers driven and time spent behind the wheel brings the 17-year-old to a higher level of driver in real life, but also in the mobile application.

And since the sign “thank you” doesn’t motivate anyone much these days, if you use the app honestly, you can get, for example, an electric car for the weekend from Skoda, a discount on insurance from Kooperativa or a safe driving course at the training ground. We call this school a game, the driver Jan Ámos Komenský would certainly be cheering.

Part of the material distributed among applicants for mentorship / 17-year-old drivers is also the new unified sticker L17, which, although not supported by law, warns that an inexperienced beginner may be behind the wheel of a given vehicle. You should treat such a driver with the same respect as if he had the familiar Z in a triangle plastered on the back.

Photo: Association of driving schools

Although the L17 sticker is not supported by law, it draws attention, like the Z in a triangle, to a novice driver.

In countries where the L17 system with a mentor operates, around a third of new drivers use it each year. Furthermore, each driver in the L17 system has an average of three enrolled mentors. Some countries, such as Germany or France, are even considering lowering the age limit to 16, which would bring them to the level of drivers in the United States of America.

The L17 system should also support our driving school, which annually produces about one hundred thousand new drivers of various age categories. It is assumed that after the introduction of L17, this number will increase to the value of about 130 thousand drivers per year. On the other hand, the system promises greater safety and a reduction in traffic accident deaths, which we sincerely hope will actually happen.