Young driver age limit could rise to 18 under new proposals
Young drivers could be prevented from taking their driving test until they are 18 and face a raft of motoring restrictions if proposals put forward in a new Government-commissioned report are adopted.
The proposals – which also include measures such as teenaged motorists from being forbidden to drive at night or with similarly aged friends as passengers – are contained in a 190-page research report into novice driving standards by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).
The TRL study was commissioned by the Department for Transport to analyse statistics that suggest young and novice drivers are much more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents than older, more experienced motorists.
DFT figures suggest 22 per cent of fatalities on Britain’s roads in 2011 occurred in collisions involving a driver aged between 17 and 24.
In 65 per cent of those collisions, the fatal injuries were sustained by passengers or road users other than the young driver, leading the TRL report to conclude that, “the over-representation of young novice drivers in road injury statistics is a public health risk in GB and worldwide”.
The TRL’s new framework for young drivers takes its inspiration from Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) schemes already used in several countries including New Zealand, Australia and Canada. TRL estimates the adoption of such a scheme would result in 4,471 fewer casualties and £224 million in cost savings annually.
The scheme proposes that 17-year-olds would be issued with a learner permit and red ‘L’ plates that they would have to retain for a minimum of 12 months.
During this time they would have to complete a minimum of 100 daytime hours and 20 nighttime hours of supervised practice, which would then have to be submitted in a mandatory log book when they go to do their driving test.
The hours would have to be verified by a parent/guardian, supervising driver or advanced driving instructor. Under the scheme, the restriction on learner drivers using the motorways would be lifted.
A ban on using hands-free mobile phones would be enforced, as would a drink-drive alcohol limit of 0.2g/l.
At the age of 18 drivers would be eligible to apply for a probationary licence, which would require theory, on-road and hazard perception tests to be passed. Successful drivers would be issued with green ‘P’ plates.
They would face a 12-month restriction from driving between the hours of 10pm and 5am, unless accompanied by an adult over 30 years old.
Any probationary licence holder under the age of 30 would be banned from carrying passengers under 30 years old, unless an adult over 30 is also riding in the car.
After a full year as a probationary licence holder, drivers will be able to apply for a full licence, although the TRL study also recommends that periodic assessment of a licence holder by advanced driving instructors should be introduced for all drivers.
Brake, the road safety charity, said: “We wholeheartedly welcome this report, which is further recognition of the compelling case for graduated driver licensing. We urge the government to act swiftly and decisively by committing to a full system of graduated driver licensing, to help reduce the danger young drivers pose to themselves and others.”
The Department for Transport could launch a full consultation into the proposals during the winter.