Currently reading: Young driver age limit could rise to 18 under new proposals
New Government-commissioned report also recommends night-time driving restrictions for young drivers and a new graduated licensing procedure for novices

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.

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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.



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russ13b 12 October 2013

here we go again.

i started driving on my 17th birthday, took my test at 18.5 (i'm 34 now). during that time i drove my parent's car whenever i was in it, which was most days, irrespective of the weather or time of day. i passed my test first time with no faults after 12 lessons, during which my instructor said that other that a few tweaks here'n'there i was basically just getting used to his car. in my first few years of driving i still had a few daft bumps - nothing worse than cracking a numberplate or indicator lens, and only 3 in 3 years - but the events still took place.

i've always said that you shouldn't be allowed to take your test until you've been assessed as "competent" on a skid pan, that you should have to get your eyes tested every 2 years, that the highway code should be taught in school so that everyone knows it properly, and whilst you're told to drive at a speed which allows you to "stop safely in the distance you can see", it's wrong that you're never taught to judge it.

the thing is this; when you start a new job you have your few weeks of training and induction, and then you're left on your own to get on with it. new things come up and people show you how to do other stuff. eventually you do something wrong or incorrectly, as you'd expect of someone who's only been there for a month or so, it gets sorted out, people say to try and not do it again. it's exactly the same with driving, but because it's driving you're made out to be worse than the devil.

statistics are an easily warped poor representation. 22% may involve newbys, why isn't more fuss being made about the 88% they have nothing to do with? also, 18 to 24 year olds aren't automatically dangerous, what percentage of them are actually causing the problem? and, of that 22%, how many of the collisions were actually by fault of the 18 - 24 year old? all it states is that they were involved.

if these rules are brought in, and people abide by them, will insurance become actually affordable? thought not...

Safari 12 October 2013

Limit the Power

One of the issues here is when I started driving you would save up money to buy a car and it was usually a fairly old underpowered car. Now youngsters can get loans through most car manufacturers so they can drive away in a brand new car. In many situations parents buy their children cars along with other things. Psychologically this has an effect on younger people which then takes away the value and importance of caring for something they have not invested in themselves. This has a huge knock on effect endowing younger people with a selfish attitude - lack of responsibility and authority. Many parents give their children unlimited boundaries and find it hard to criticise their children. They become too protective as well when they hear criticism of their children from other people in authority.
Unfortunately this translates into 'I won't be told what to do' mentality. It is unlikely that our society is going to change so it is necessary for these powers to be brought in. I personally believe they should go further - like they do with motorcycles - limit the power available when someone passes their test. You should be driving for 5 years - have a clean licence before being able to drive anything more powerful than a 1.2/1.4 litre car. This would surely encourage youngsters to drive better if they knew that if they have any points on their licence during the first 5 years they wouldn't be able to drive anything more than a small car.

Dark Isle 12 October 2013

Totally O.T.T.

They need to start smaller, because their current plans are never going to work properly. I did the Pass Plus course, and found it really helped me. They should incorporate Pass Plus into the regular driving curriculum; I know it would be really helpful to the majority of young drivers.

Peopl3mova 11 October 2013

An opinion from an Australian "L-Plater"

I'm an 18 year old that has just finished the mandatory 100 hours of supervised driving and will be going for my driving test soon to go onto my P plates. I can personally say that I think this scheme, however irritating and tedious, is probably a good thing. That nonsense about never being able to give lifts to people under the age of thirty, and never being able to drive at night etc is simply ridiculous and impractical. In Australia we are allowed 1 passenger after 11pm and even that is unproven to actually have any effect on deaths at night. I also have an issue with raising the age to 18 to start learning. I think you should be instilling good habits in younger drivers so that they will carry them on in later life. Also, how many 18 year olds are living away from home? Who will "supervise" them? /end rant