Italian Lawmakers Want to Ban New Drivers From Cars With More Than 95 HP for Three Years

Italy already has harsh restrictions on power for new drivers, but lawmakers want to go further.

It’s often argued that new drivers should be restricted from driving powerful cars until they are mature and experienced enough to handle them. Italy has long maintained such rules, and lawmakers are now moving to extend them to a greater selection of drivers than ever before.

As reported by Quattroroute, Italy’s former driving rules banned first-year drivers from cars with more than 70 kilowatts (93 hp) or whose power-to-weight ratio exceeds 55 kilowatts (73 hp) per metric ton (2200 pounds). The rule extends to 65 kW (88 hp) per ton for hybrid or electric vehicles. A new decision from Italy’s Council of Ministers extends that restriction to three years for all new license holders. The new rules must still pass parliamentary procedures to get enacted, but the move is a strong indication of the government’s will in this area.

The rule applies to all “new” drivers in Italy. The legal driving age in Italy is 18, so it formerly forced young drivers into humbler cars until they turned 19 at the least. Now, those same drivers will be expected to drive low-powered vehicles into their early 20s. The rule applies from the date of obtaining a license and is not tied to age. Thus, foreigners that move to Italy and obtain a local license, or those that obtain a license later in life are subject to the same restriction.

It’s unclear how the rule will be applied to existing drivers that may have held a license for two years and purchased a more powerful vehicle after passing the original restriction. This could be dealt with under a grandfather clause for earlier drivers or a similar carve-out.

Other countries have pursued similar legislation. For example, some Australian states ban new drivers from vehicles with over 130 kW (174 hp) per ton, or certain vehicles that have been classified as “high performance” models by the government.

If you’re reading this in the US, the power numbers cited by Italian authorities likely sound absurdly low. Even regular commuter cars like the Honda Civic or Toyota Camry would be far in excess of the restrictions. The Mitsubishi Mirage is one of a handful of modern cars from the US market that would be legal for new Italian motorists to drive.

However, the restriction highlights the different cars available on the European market. Unlike the US, many compact city cars are available with less than 95 horsepower, from the low-end models of the Fiat 500 to the Volkswagen Up. There’s even a 71-horsepower Toyota Yaris with a five-speed manual that will slide under the limit, though even the lowest models of the Honda Fit have just a few horsepower too many.

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Italy is well known for its tight streets and its corresponding love for compact cars. However, in the modern era, it’s almost shocking to hear that new drivers are banned from cars with, shock, horror—triple-digit horsepower. To extend that for three full years seems excessive, but it bears noting that Europeans simply don’t consider low-powered compact cars to be such a penalty like we do overseas.

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