Graduated Licences for New Drivers
The Department for Transport is exploring the idea of graduated driving licences which would impose conditions on new drivers.
The activities of new drivers are limited according to their age and experience.
Newly qualified drivers will be
- banned from the roads at night and during the early hours of the morning
- limited in the age and number of passengers they could carry
- restricted from driving powerful cars
The discussion of the new measures is a response to the disproportionate amount of accidents that involve young drivers.
- Drivers aged between 17 and 19 accounts for just 1.5 per cent of licence holders, but are involved in almost one in ten accidents
- 25% of those aged 18 to 24 have an accident within two years of passing their test
Similar schemes in New Zealand, Sweden and Australia have been successful in driving down accident rates.
Currently, if you accrue six points on your licence within the first two years after passing your test, you will automatically lose your licence.
Announcing the investigation, Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis said:
“We want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads.”
In May last year, then Roads Minister Jesse Norman wrote that:
“The Department for Transport has decided to use the introduction of GDL in Northern Ireland as a pilot to gather evidence on the potential for GDL in Great Britain”.
Back in 2013, the DfT commissioned a study on graduated licences, which found “indisputable” evidence that tiered systems, especially for young drivers, help cut accident rates. The study estimated if all 17-19-year-old drivers in Great Britain faced driving restrictions, it would “result in annual savings of 4,471 casualties and £224million”. The researchers concluded: “Based on the evidence, it is recommended that licensing in GB be based on a full GDL system.”
Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research, IAM RoadSmart
“In any graduated driver licensing (GDL) scheme, the key is building experience. We support a ‘minimum learning period’ with a list of driving skills you must complete – such as urban/rural, day/night, wet/dry. Too many young drivers pass the practical test unprepared for the road and this approach would help them survive the high-risk early months on their own. Peer passenger bans are worth exploring, but night-time curfews might restrict experience after dark. Promoting the positive safety benefits of GDL to teens and their parents leads to self-enforcement, while costs need not be prohibitive. GDL shouldn’t stop at the practical test and we support post-test check-ups to embed learning and help new drivers negotiate our stressful roads”.
Edmund King, President, AA
“We support graduated learning before the test as a better way of educating new drivers. The topic of graduated licences post-test has been raised a number of times in the last few years. We’d be supportive of any move that aims to improve the safety of newly-qualified drivers, but would be wary of anything that is too restrictive. Draconian measures to restrict new drivers would be difficult to enforce as we are already have experienced a 20 per cent drop in traffic police. Instead of greater restrictions post-test, we would rather improve education before the test; measures such as including road safety on the national curriculum would improve young people’s attitudes before they even get behind the wheel”.
Nicholas Lyes, Head of Roads Policy, RAC
“The RAC has been calling for reform of driving education for young people and the introduction of graduated driving licences with a minimum supervised learning period, as well as restrictions on the number of passengers permitted in the car. This is a very positive step towards preventing the loss of young lives on our roads. The RAC’s Report on Motoring showed that 35 per cent of young drivers felt the standard driving test does not cover all the skills required to cope with the demands of driving today, so clearly, we should be exploring how to improve the learning experience. Graduated licensing may also have a positive impact on insurance premiums and should reduce the cost of driving for new motorists”.
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