Driving Test Age To Be Increased?

The Government Could Be Set To Overhaul The Driving Test System

11.10.2013

An in-depth report by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) has recommended that the government makes substantial changes to the current driving test system.

It has called for a new "12-month learner stage" to be introduced for 17-year-olds, requiring them to undertake at least 100 hours of daytime and 20 hours of night-time supervised driving practice.

Once they have completed this phase of the process, they will be given the opportunity to progress to a "probationary licence".

This would also last for 12 months, during which motorists would be obliged to display a P green plate on their vehicle. They would also be banned from driving between 10pm and 5am and not be permitted to carry any passengers under the age of 30.

In addition to this, TRL recommended that all probationary drivers are banned from using mobile phones in any way - including hands-free kits - and that a lower drink-driving limit is introduced.

The research organisation contends that as young people are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents there is a "compelling case for significant improvement of driver licensing in the UK".

It referenced figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) that showed 22 per cent of fatalities on the nation's roads in 2011 involved drivers aged between 17 and 24. In 65 per cent of these cases, the people who died were passengers or other road users.

The TRL also stated that ten per cent of novice drivers are caught committing a traffic offence within their two-year probationary period. Around two per cent also have their licences revoked.

A spokesperson for the DfT said: "Young drivers drive around five per cent of all the miles driven in Britain but are involved in about 20 per cent of the crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured.

"We are committed to improving safety for young drivers and reducing their insurance costs - that is why we are publishing a Green Paper later in the year setting out our proposals."

Expert Opinion
I am pleased to see a body as reputable as TRL examining this issue in-depth and providing its analysis on what can be done to improve support for younger drivers. It is a potentially difficult topic as not all young drivers drive carelessly of course.

“However, as the DfT figures indicate, there is certainly a case for giving young drivers more training and experience on the road before they are fully licensed.

“However, the government may face more difficulty making the case for imposing new restrictions on drivers once they have passed their test. Arguably, the emphasis should be on the training that comes before the licence to ensure that drivers are properly equipped to drive in the first place.

“It will be interesting to see how matters develop following the release of this report and it is an issue I’ll be following closely.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner