Driving test age considered rising to 18

Date posted: November 12, 2013

The government is considering increasing the driving test age to 18 in a bid to cut down accidents involving young motorists.

In the report by the Transport Research Laboratory, they propose a 12 month probationary licence would be issued for 18-year olds, and they would be subject to a curfew between 10pm and 5am, unless they have a passenger in the car over 30. They would also be required to put a P plate on their car during the probationary period.

17-year olds could still learn how to drive, but wouldn’t be able to take their test until they turned 18. During that time they would be required to have 100 hours of daytime driving practise and 20 hours of night time practise.

In addition to the limitations on 18-year old drivers, any new drivers under the age of 30 would be banned from carrying passengers under the age of 30 during the probationary period. As young drivers are more likely to get into accidents, this would lower the risk of more casualties.

Other proposals include a ban on hands-free mobile use and a lower alcohol limit for new drivers.

Currently a provisional licence holder must be accompanied by a driver over 21 who has held a licence for at least 3 years.

Dangerous drivers

According to statistics, 20% of deaths on British roads in 2011 involved drivers aged under 25. By implementing the new rules, around over 4,400 casualties could be prevented, saving £224m, according to the report.

Young male drivers are the highest risk drivers, seven times more likely than the average male driver to get into an accident. Between the hours of 2am and 5am, the risk is 17 times higher, which is when the proposed curfew would be.

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

The Department of Transport said that they’re committed to reducing insurance costs for young people and improving their safety, so they will be using the report to influence their Green Paper which will lead a discussion on the way people learn how to drive.

Proposals welcomed

Motoring charities welcomed the proposals, and Julie Townsend of Brake said that it was further recognition of the case for graduated drive licensing. She also urged the government to act swiftly to commit to the system to help reduce the danger young drivers are.

The graduated licence has been a success in other parts of the world including the USA, Australia and New Zealand. It already exists in Northern Ireland and for all motorcyclists in the UK.

Currently learners in England, Scotland and Wales must pass a theory and practical test before obtaining a full licence. The minimum age to hold a licence is 17, though some 16 year olds claiming mobility benefit may hold a licence.

The Green Paper is planned to be released later this year.

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