Graduated Driving Licence: Unfair For Young Drivers?

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Research by the Co Operative Insurance has found that over a third of young drivers don’t think that the current practical driving test fully prepares them for the roads. The report that the company has produced is called ‘Young People in the Driving Seat’ and has been collated from information from 60,000 young drivers. The Co Operative also questioned 17,000 drivers between the ages of 17 and 25.

Three quarters of the 17,000 drivers questioned believe that driving on the motorway should be included in the practical test. They also suggested other improvements such as including driving both during the day and at night, as well as all types of manoeuvers. A spokesperson for the Co Operative Insurance said that new drivers are increasingly facing more complex road situations, so it is imperative that anyone who passes their driving test feels comfortable driving without supervision.

Other results from the survey revealed that 98% of young drivers think that they are safe when behind the wheel, but worryingly, 40% admitted to dangerous behaviour such as driving whilst tired or speeding.

A spokesperson for the road safety charity Brake said that road accidents are the biggest killer of young people in the UK. Young drivers in particular are, according to the charity, at more risk of being involved in an accident which results in serious injuries or fatalities. On hearing of the figures, the charity used them to reinforce why it is backing the introduction of a graduated driving licence in the UK. Brake believes that introducing such a system is an ‘obvious’ way to make the UK roads safer.

How do young drivers want to change the practical driving test?

  • 78% of young people featured in the survey would like to see motorway driving be included in the test.
  • 59% of the people surveyed would prefer to have elements of day and night driving included in the test.
  • Half of the people in the survey would like to see unnecessary theoretical questions abolished.
  • Half of the young drivers surveyed would like to see all manoeuvres included. However, a quarter of them would prefer to get rid of reversing around a corner, 17% would scrap parallel parking and 12% wished to end the emergency stop.

About the Graduated Driving Licence

The Graduated Driving Licence is a system of new driver training which is already working successfully in some areas of the world, such as New Zealand and some states of the USA.

What is the evidence to support introducing a Graduated Driving Licence?

In New Zealand, the introduction of a GDL system has reduced the number of car crash injuries by 23% for 15-19 year olds and 12% for 20-24 year olds. In the USA, 16 year old drivers who have a licence under the GDL system have 37% less crashes per year. If all the states in the USA adopted such a system, over 500 lives could be saved annually, according to estimations.

In Britain, it is said that the introduction of a GDL could potentially prevent 400 cases of serious injury and fatalities every year. In turn, this would save the economy £200 million a year. Research has shown that the public would be accepting of a GDL system if it was communicated effectively, with a campaign explaining the benefits for young drivers. A survey by the driving group RAC Foundation found that two thirds of adults and 41% of young drivers were in favour of the system.

What measures do Brake recommend for a GDL system in Britain?

For learners:

  • A minimum of a year learning period before would-be drivers can take their theory or practical test.
  • A learner’s licence wouldn’t be fully valid until they have had 10 hours of supervised practice.
  • The minimum age that a driver can supervise a learner would rise from 21 to 25.
  • Drivers who want to supervise a learner would have to complete a suitability questionnaire.

For new (novice) drivers:

  • Drivers would hold a novice licence for 2 years after they have passed their practical driving test.
  • New drivers wouldn’t be able to carry passengers under the age of 25.
  • New drivers shouldn’t drive between 11pm and 6am, unless for school or work purposes.
  • There would be a zero tolerance alcohol limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood for new drivers.
  • New drivers would not be able to drive on motorways.
  • New drivers would be restricted to the size of engine that they can drive.
  • To ensure safe driving, novice drivers would have to pass a second test at the end of the two year period.

For more details about the practical driving test, call the DVLA.