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Call for driving age to be lowered to 16 but with more restrictions

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New drivers should spend at least a year learning to drive and should have restrictions on when they can take to the road, according to the Association of British Insurers.

The ABI, alongside calling for a ban on ‘intensive driving course’, also thinks that the alcohol limit should be lowered to reduce the high crash risk young drivers face and to lower their motor insurance costs.

The ABI point to the fact that in the UK only one in eight driver licence holders are aged 25 or under, yet one in three who die on our roads is aged under 25.

An 18 year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash than a 48 year-old driver.

Otto Thoresen, ABI’s Director General, said: “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.”

The research shows that over a quarter of motor personal injury insurance claims over £500,000 resulted from a crash involving a driver aged between 17-24.

Young drivers are far more likely to be involved in crashes involving 3-5 high value bodily injury claims, reflecting the increased risk they face of having a serious crash while carrying passengers.

The ABI is also calling for a ‘graduate driver licensing’ system to be put in place.

This would include restrictions on the number of young drivers that can be carried by a young driver in the first six months after passing their driving test, reflecting the fact that the crash risk increases significantly with young passengers in the car.

Also in this graduated phase there would be a lower blood alcohol driving limit.

The ABI says that this would, in effect, be a zero limit as it would only allow for the consumption of alcohol linked to products such as mouthwash.
This call for greater scrutiny in driving practices in the UK has been met with approval.

Nigel Bartram, senior motor underwriter at Aviva, said: “More than 3,300 young drivers or passengers aged 17-24 are killed or seriously injured on our roads every year with 17-20 year old male drivers almost ten times more likely to be victims than more experienced drivers.

“These are shocking statistics which highlight the need for more to be done to address road safety among younger drivers and help reduce accidents. 

“We believe there should be a minimum 12-month learning period as well as a lower provisional licence age of 16 and a half, both of which would allow young drivers to gain more driving experience before taking their test.

“We would also like to see a ban on so-called ‘crash learning courses’ which leave drivers ill-equipped to cope with the rigours of driving on today’s roads.”

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