The government commissioned a report from TRL in response to Department of Transport figures for 2011 showing rising numbers of 17-25-year-olds are involved in crashes. 22 percent of fatalities on Britain’s roads occur in incidents involving drivers in this age group.
Ministers are now considering graduate licencing with rules similar to those in Australia and New Zealand. Graduated licensing would restrict newly qualified drivers from certain things, such as carrying passengers (which is a major source of driving distraction).
Other recommendations include:
- Motorists are only allowed to take a practical driving test at age 18 or over and must have acquired at least 120 hours of supervised practice
- Supervised practice must be a mixture of day and night-time driving
- Novice drivers aged less than 30 won’t be able to carry passengers for the first 12 months after passing their test (this is to avoid groups of rowdy youths egging the driver on in a car)
- Drivers would carry a green P plate for a minimum of 12 months after passing the test to make it easier for authorities to police the new rules.
- During the P plate period drivers will not be able to drive between 10pm – 5am unless accompanied by a passenger who is over the age of 30 (and presumably holds a full driver’s licence)
A lower legal alcohol limit has been suggested for inexperienced drivers, and a complete ban on mobile phone use, including with a hands-free kit.
Once this probationary period has passed the restrictions will be lifted and they will graduate to a full licence.
David Davies, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, told the Telegraph: “Graduated licensing already exists for young drivers in Northern Ireland, all motorcyclists in the United Kingdom and in other countries.
“The restrictions on carrying young passengers is a priority because of the potential for four or five people to be killed in a single incident and it is often these passengers who are distracting the driver.”
In Australia there are different rules in each state. To get your licence in New South Wales you first get a learner licence by taking the Driver Knowledge Test (DKT), passing an eyesight test and being at least 16 years old. After a minimum of 12 months of holding a learner licence with 120 hours of supervision (of which 20 must be night-time), the yellow L plate of a learner is traded for a red P plate (P1 licence). There is a zero alcohol limit. The driver can drive unaccompanied, but is limited to 90kph (56mph). P1 drivers must not have any more than one passenger under the age of 21 between 11pm and 5am, and there is an instant 3-month suspension for any speeding offence.
After one year on a P1 licence, the driver can graduate to green P plates (P2 licence) by passing a hazard perception test. The zero alcohol limit remains, but the speed is lifted to 100kph (62mph). This remains in force for two years, after which a full licence is granted after completion of another computerised test.
In New Zealand, the restrictions aren’t as onerous: learner drivers must be at least 16 years old, pass a Road Code test and hold a learner licence for six months before they get a restricted licence. On a restricted licence they can drive on their own between 5am and 10pm, but must have a supervisor sitting in the front passenger seat who has held a full licence for at least 2 years between 10pm and 5am. A restricted licence must be held for 18 months, or 12 months if the driver completes an approved defensive driving course. If the driver is 25 years old or old, the restricted licence period is 6 months or 3 months with the course.