Road safety campaigners have reacted with dismay to continuing delays to the Government’s planned reforms of the driving test.
Stricter rules for drivers under the age of 30 were due to be proposed last year, with new young drivers being given a year-long probationary licence when they passed their test instead of a full one.
The new licences, which aimed to cut the amount of accidents involving young people, would not allow holders to drive between 10pm and 5am unless someone else over the age of 30 was also in the car.
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill initially announced in December that the reforms had been put back, saying that the Department for Transport was “wrestling with how to make things safer while not unduly restricting the freedom of our young people”.
The delays have since been extended while the Government awaits the results of research into how “telematics” – devices which can record how a drive accelerates, corners and brakes – can change the behaviour and attitudes of learner drivers.
Critics claim that ministers are worried about alienating young voters ahead of the 2015 general election. Crispin Moger, the CEO of Marmalade, which specialises in insurance for new drivers, said: “I think it’s a disgrace that the green paper, talking about radical plans to change the driving test, has been delayed simply to avoid losing votes.
“This is about the safety of our roads and our young people so absolutely needs to be kept at the top of the political agenda.”
A DfT spokesman said: “The number of young people being killed on our roads is far too high and we want to do all we can to tackle this issue. But it is vital we strike a balance between safety and not unduly restricting the freedom of young drivers.
“This is a crucial issue and we are determined to get it right so we have decided we need more time to undertake further work to better understand the issues.”