Government report tackles young driver crash rate

Close up of a learner drivers sign

Close up of a learner drivers sign - Credit: Getty Images

Motoring and road safety groups have welcomed a Government-commissioned report that could save the lives of young drivers in Fenland.

The report, which says casualties could be reduced by up to 4,000 a year across the country, recommends that teenagers should not take their driving test until they are 18.

Research group TRL says young people should have a 12-month “learner stage” beginning at least 100 group hours of day-time and 20 hours of night-time supervised practice.

Having passed the test, they would then get a probationary licence and would have to display a green “P” plate.

Restrictions placed on them would include a night- time driving curfew and a ban on carrying passengers under 30 years old for all novice drivers aged under 30.

The report said that a ban on any mobile phone use, including hands-free, and a lower alcohol limit should be considered.

After the 12-month probationary licence, drivers would automatically graduate to a full licence and unrestricted driving.

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TRL said that the graduated driver licensing system could result in annual savings of 4,471 casualties and a saving in cost terms of £224 million.

It added that these figures only related to 17-19 year olds and that if the system was applied to all new drivers the cut in casualties and costs would be “even greater”.

More than one fifth of deaths on Britain’s roads in 2011 involved drivers aged 17 to 24.

The report is now being considered by the Government which is due to publish a Green Paper later this year.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at road safety charity Brake, said: “Through our support services for bereaved and injured crash victims, we witness the suffering and devastation that results from crashes involving young, inexperienced drivers.

“We wholeheartedly welcome this report, which is further recognition of the compelling case for graduated driver licensing.”

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Young people are four times more likely to die in a road accident than as a result of drink or drugs. Yet as a society we seem to turn a blind eye to the carnage. If this was any other area of public health there would be an outcry.”

“Our own research shows that putting certain restrictions on young drivers allows them to rapidly build up live-saving experience in the safest possible way.

AA president Edmund King said: “Road safety on the national curriculum is something we have long campaigned for and we would also support learner drivers being allowed on motorways with their instructor.

“However, at the extreme end this report could be seen as just recommending taking novice drivers off the road by regulation and restriction rather than helping them develop the right attitudes and skills to provide them with the mobility they need.”

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “Young drivers drive around 5% of all the miles driven in Britain, but are involved in about 20% of the crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured.”

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