'Year in L-plates' call for drivers


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The Independent Online

Novice drivers should spend at least a year as learners before being allowed to take their test, insurers proposed today.

Restrictions on night-time driving and a lowering of the drink-drive limit for young drivers are also needed to reduce the high crash risk these inexperienced motorists face, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said.

The minimum 12-month learning period would enable young drivers to gain more supervised practice, the ABI said.

And the age at which young people can start learning to drive should be lowered to 16 and a half, rather than the current 17.

The ABI also called for graduated driver licensing. This would include restrictions on the number of young passengers that can be carried by drivers in the first six months after passing their driving test.

It would include, during the first six months, restrictions - with some exemptions - on young drivers driving between 11pm at night and 4am.

During the graduated phase, there would be a lower blood alcohol driving limit. This would, in effect, be a zero limit.

The ABI said that in the UK only one in eight driving licence-holders was aged 25 or under, yet a third of those killed on the roads was aged under 25.

It added that an 18-year-old driver was more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48-year-old driver.

In addition, 27% of motor personal injury insurance claims over £500,000 result from a crash involving a driver aged 17-24.

ABI director general Otto Thoresen said today: "Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads, especially among the 17-24 age group.

"A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.

"We have all side-stepped this issue for too long. Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today's young drivers become tomorrow's safer motorists."