Driving age could be raised to 18 in UK - with a curfew and strict rules for recently-qualified drivers

MPs will soon consider a green paper based on proposals from Government-commissioned research

Adam Withnall
Friday 11 October 2013 14:08
More than 20 per cent of fatal crashes in the UK involve young drivers, yet they account for only 5 per cent of miles driven
More than 20 per cent of fatal crashes in the UK involve young drivers, yet they account for only 5 per cent of miles driven

The driving age in the UK could be raised to 18 and a curfew introduced for newly-qualified drivers, under recommendations put forward in research commissioned by the Government.

Under the proposals, prospective drivers would have to be 17 before they could begin a 12-month “learner stage”, during which they would need to complete more than 100 hours on the road and fill out a log-book recording their progress.

A “probationary” licence – and a mandatory “P” plate to go on their car – would be given only once the driver had turned 18, completed the first stage and passed their tests.

For a further 12 months the young person would be subject to a number of new restrictions, including a curfew from 10pm to 5am unless they were accompanied by an adult over 30, a ban on carrying any passengers at all under the age of 30, and stricter rules on mobile phone use (even hands-free) and alcohol consumption.

Only once all these stipulations were met would a person be granted a full licence and unrestricted driving.

The suggested measures come after research showed that 22 per cent of all fatal crashes in the UK involve a driver between the ages of 17 and 24 – and that 65 per cent of those who died were either pedestrians or other, older drivers and passengers.

Current rules allow teenagers to apply for a provisional licence three months before their 17th birthday, and intensive courses mean some drivers become fully qualified just days after reaching the legal age.

The report concludes: “Young and novice drivers come to be overrepresented in road collisions [because of their] youth and inexperience, and [this] leads to well-understood risky driving scenarios for those concerned.

“The evidence reviewed in this report suggests that the comprehensive licensing system we are recommending would bring considerable casualty savings for young and novice drivers, their passengers, and all other road users in Great Britain.”

A statement from the Department of Transport said: “Young drivers drive around 5 per cent of all the miles driven in Britain but are involved in about 20 per cent of the crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured.”

They said the report, written by a team from the Transport Research Laboratory, has informed a green paper which will be put before MPs soon.

It comes as the Conservative-led coalition looks to make strict changes to various aspects of the driver training process.

Tory MP and minister for road safety Robert Goodwill announced yesterday that, from April 2014, everyone will be required to take the UK driving test in English or Welsh. It will bring an end to the current scheme that allows for theory tests to be taken with a voiceover in one of 19 different languages, and the use of interpreters in practical tests.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “We want to make sure that all drivers have the right skills to use our roads safely and responsibly.”

The Driving Standards Agency said a consulting period showed “there was also support for encouraging candidates to learn the national language to improve social cohesion”.

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