Matthew Hancock Thinks The Current Driving Test System Needs Tweaking

Test Incentives Suggested To Improve Driving Standards


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Skills minister and West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock believes the current driving test needs a makeover, with the most accomplished motorists being given a distinction grade.

This, he suggested, would ultimately improve road safety standards in the UK and could enable insurance companies to offer lower premiums to the most assured drivers.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, the MP said: "People say the driving test is just pass or fail. But actually if we had a distinction on the driving test, maybe those people could get lower premiums and be safer drivers."

Although learner drivers receive some feedback from their examiner once they have finished their test, it is not always made clear to them how they can improve - even if they have passed.

Mr Hancock thinks young motorists need an incentive to reach the highest standards possible and the opportunity to receive cheaper car insurance might be just what is needed.

AA president Edmund King told the news provider that the idea is "interesting" and the distinction grades could be set aside for people who not only excel in their test, but also take advanced lessons.

"Young drivers are not ready for Britain's roads after passing their tests. They are ten times more likely to have an accident in the first year after passing their test," Mr King was quoted as saying.

Mr Hancock's recommendations came shortly after a report by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) urged the government to make significant alterations to the existing driving test system.

If the TRL's proposals are acted upon, youngsters would need to complete at least 100 hours of supervised daytime practice, as well as 20 hours of night-time driving, before they are given a probationary licence.

The Department for Transport accepted that action is needed, as young motorists account for around five per cent of all miles driven on the UK's roads, yet they are involved in 20 per cent of crashes that result in fatalities or serious injuries.

Expert Opinion
Driving up standards – if you’ll pardon the pun – has got to be right in principle. I suspect the devil will be in the detail.

Young motorists are involved in 20 per cent of serious crashes, but account for five per cent of miles driven. If the system can be changed so that it gives young motorists and first time drivers better skills which improve both their safety and that of other road users then this is a change that should be considered.

More assured drivers will have better road safety awareness which will in turn reduce the amount of accidents that occur up and down our country. And if some see their premiums reduced, it’s an added bonus. But there are a lot of questions that would need addressing arising from Mr Hancock’s idea. What about drivers already licensed? What would happen if an 'advanced' motorist attracted a motoring conviction e.g. for careless driving – would they be 'downgraded'? What will the cost be to the motorist of extra assessments? A nice idea but we need more detail please."
Neil Whiteley, Partner