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New drivers could face night driving ban

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

“Graduated driver licensing” would limit what new drivers can do on the road in a bid to reduce the number of accidents.

Young drivers could be banned from the road at night and carrying passengers under a certain age under plans to improve road safety.

The Department of Transport has drawn up plans to introduce “graduated driver licensing”. This type of scheme puts restrictions on new drivers, such as a minimum learning period, not driving at night, or not driving with passengers under a certain age in the car.

One in five new drivers crashes within their first year on the road, and so any changes would be designed to help reduce this number and improve road safety.

Similar schemes already operate in New Zealand, Sweden and some parts of Australia, the US and Canada. But this type of scheme has previously been rejected in the UK due to concerns that it would restrict young people’s access to education and jobs. However, the government will conduct further research in order to fully understand how such a scheme might work.

Currently, new drivers have their licenses revoked if they accumulate six points within the first two years.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “Young drivers are involved in nearly a fifth of all fatal crashes on our roads, a deeply troubling figure hugely disproportionate to the number of young license holders.

“Brake has long called for the introduction of graduated driver licensing, a solution which we know works, and so we welcome today’s announcement but urge swift and decisive action to introduce the policy.”

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “Young drivers sadly are over-represented in road traffic collisions so we welcome plans to improve their safety. Graduated driver licensing has the benefit of providing a more controlled environment when learning how to drive, however this must be balanced so it does not disadvantage young drivers who need to use vehicles for night work.

“We certainly would welcome a minimum learning period, or indeed a minimum number of learning hours required, while there may also be merits in restricting new drivers from carrying some passengers at certain times of the day and possibly even having a stricter drink-drive limit for new drivers. But we would also encourage the government to look closely at providing incentives for the uptake of telematics based policies for new drivers, and consider how any new rules governing new drivers can be effectively enforced.”

Telematics insurance works by fitting your car with a small device which records speed patterns and distance travelled as well as the type of roads used, and when. The technology can also monitor braking and cornering to build up a picture of an individual’s driving style. Telematics providers tend not to be keen on graduated driver licensing.

Mike Brockman, CEO of telematics company ThingCo, said: “Limits on passengers is a good idea but night-time curfews kill. If you put young drivers under time pressure to get off the road by a certain time, the high probability is that they will speed and we know the consequences of speeding. Or they end up stranded, unable to drive to get home.

“These proposals are poorly considered, discriminatory and impractical. Not all young drivers behave the same way, there are major differences in behaviour between male and female drivers yet these changes could be wholesale.”