The Prime Minister, Theresa May, has suggested that the UK could introduced a graduated driving licence system that would place restrictions on new drivers in an effort to cut casualties on the roads.
Mrs May said she would order the Department for Transport to look into a graduated licensing system – which could ban young motorist from carrying passengers or driving at night – after a question during this week’s Prime Minister’s Questions.
Labour MP for Darlington Jenny Chapman raised the issue after a learner driver killed a child in her constituency. She pointed to figures showing that a quarter of young drivers (those between 17 and 24) are involved in an accident within the first two years after passing their test and 400 deaths of serious injuries a year involve young drivers. She then asked if the UK would consider a graduated learning system.
“Too many people suffer loss and tragedy at the hands of learner drivers in this circumstance and we will certainly look at that”
Various countries around the world, including the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Austria, use graduated licensing, with different approaches and restrictions.
Some set a minimum learning period while others require drivers to sit a second test a year after their initial pass.
Other potential measures the Government could consider are a probationary period where drivers are not allowed to carry passengers under a certain age, are not allowed to drive at night or face lower drink-drive limits.
The UK already has rules that mean any motorist given six points on their licence in their first two years of driving automatically loses their licence.
Mrs May told the House of Commons: “Too many people suffer loss and tragedy at the hands of learner drivers in this circumstance and we will certainly look at that.”
Thrown in at the deep end
Her comments have been welcomed by safety campaigners.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “Our current licensing system is not fit for purpose and throws newly-qualified drivers in at the deep-end, at great risk to themselves and others.
“We are encouraged that the Government will look into the issue of graduated driver licensing. Young and novice drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of road crashes and the introduction of a comprehensive graduated driver licensing system is critical to reverse this trend.
“Brake is calling upon the Government to bring the UK’s licensing system in line with best practice worldwide, requiring a minimum of 10 hours’ professional tuition and introducing a novice license, with restrictions in place for two years following the practical driving test.”
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM Roadsmart has also previously backed the idea of a graduated licence, saying: “The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world.
“For instance, Austria has a ‘second phase’ licensing system, where young drivers come back in the first 12 months after the test for further interventions to examine attitude changes and skills.”
Young male driver casualties have dropped by a third in in Austria as a result of the initiative.