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No full driving licence until 19 - AA reaction to DfT research
Recommendations from government-funded research that would mean no-one could have a full driving licence until 19 must be taken with caution, warns the AA.
However, the AA would welcome many of the other recommendations, in particular putting road safety on the national curriculum and allowing learner drivers on motorways.
The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport, was published on 9 October and comes in advance of the expected government Green Paper into young driver safety due out this autumn.
In essence, the report advocates implementing a full graduated driving licence system in the UK. This would mean someone learning to drive at 17 would have to successfully complete a 12-month minimum learning period before taking their test and a 12-month probationary licence period after their test before they gained a full licence.
Some of the proposals would have a great impact on the lives of young people and their families. Under the recommendations, an 18-year-old who had passed their learner driver test and had a probationary licence would not be able to drive themselves home after a shift that finished after 10pm – as most evening shifts do.
Key recommendations from the research include:
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
Edmund King, AA President
Edmund King, AA President, said: “There are many proposals in the report with merit and which are advocated by the AA.
“Road safety on the national curriculum is something we have long campaigned for and I am pleased to see it being recommended here. Likewise 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.
“Rather than compensating the proposed significant new restrictions through earlier access to the roads under supervision the authors propose delaying and extending the driving development process to the point where even some 30 years olds will be restricted in whom they can carry as passengers.
“This academic report has raised a number of options for debate and careful consideration. The question is how many of its recommendations will be acceptable to the government and public at large.”
There is undoubtedly a need for novice driver safety to be addressed. Recent AA-Populus research* showed driving on motorways and in poor weather conditions are the scenarios newly-qualified drivers feel most un-prepared for.
A minimum learning period, enforced by a logbook and with mandatory lessons on a variety of roads and in different light and weather conditions would help address this.
However, any changes to the licensing process must be balanced between the need to improve safety and the mobility needs of individuals.
The same AA-Populus research also found that one in ten (11%) drivers said they would have been less likely to want to pass their driving test if they had been restricted from carrying young passengers and only driving at certain times (6am-11pm) in their first year of driving.
A third (34%) also said these restrictions would have made it more difficult for them to get to work, prevented them giving lifts to siblings (34%) and prevented them helping their parents with errands (35%).
(10 October 2013)
*Populus interviewed 23, 824 adults aged 18+ on The AA-Populus motoring panel between 8 and 14 August 2013. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.