New drivers could face a strict probationary period after they’ve passed their test. Plans drawn up by the government will restrict what newly qualified drivers can do when they hit the road. The government wants to slash the disproportionately high number of accidents involving the 17-24 age group.
A Driver Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) spokesperson explained: “Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) will establish a revised training and testing regime for car drivers and motorcyclists. It will introduce some post-test restrictions for drivers/riders to reduce the over-representation of new – mainly young – drivers/riders in fatal and serious road collisions.” Read on to find out more.
Are the changes definitely going ahead?
The UK government is effectively running a live trial of its proposals in Northern Ireland. This is planned to commence in 2019 or 2020. Assuming these tests are successful, GDL will then be rolled out across the rest of the UK.
What will the reforms include?
Young drivers will have to go through the learning phase for at least six months. Currently, there is no minimum learning period.
Once they pass their test, they must use plates to signify they’re new drivers for at least two years. In Northern Ireland these are R plates. These have one design for the first six months, another design for the following 18 months. Probationary or P plates are currently available in the UK. But there’s no legal requirement for young drivers to display them once they’ve qualified for a full licence.
For the first six months after passing their test, drivers under 24-years old won’t be allowed to carry more than one passenger aged 14 to 20. This will be enforced between 11pm and 6am. There are even suggestions that young drivers will be restricted from driving after dark.
What has prompted the proposals?
Young drivers can be three times more likely to die in a road crash than their older peers. Following a crash that killed two teenagers in 2010, Scottish MP David Stewart has pursued a road safety campaign aimed at changing the rules for new drivers.
The UK government has also been persuaded by the success of GDL schemes in other countries around the world. In New Zealand when this was introduced, car crash injuries for 15 to 19-year olds were cut by 23 per cent. And in the USA, 16-year old drivers who have GDL have 37 per cent fewer crashes.
What will the results be?
Hopefully a reduction in the number of young drivers killed in road crashes. David Stewart claims that if GDL was used in Scotland it would save 22 lives and £80 million a year. If it was brought in across the UK, road safety charity Brake claims it would save 400 lives and £200m annually.
Senior campaigns officer for Brake, Ellen Booth said: “We welcome plans for a minimum learning period and initial ban on young passengers. These elements of Graduated Driver Licensing have been shown to reduce young driver risk. We hope they will make a significant contribution to preventing the many needless and traumatic casualties that involve this age group.”
Director of policy and research for driving training organisation IAM RoadSmart Neil Greig added: “Too many young drivers pass the practical test unprepared for the road so any GDL scheme must focus on building experience in all traffic conditions. Graduated Driver Licensing shouldn’t stop at the practical test. And IAM RoadSmart supports post-test check-ups to embed learning and help new drivers negotiate our stressful roads.”