Novice driver safety

AA response to TRL research report

No full driving licence until 19 - AA reaction to DfT research

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.

Full graduated driving licence system

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.

Restricting mobility

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

Key recommendations from the research include:

  • Road safety resources to be incorporated onto the national curriculum
  • Minimum learner period of 12 months, starting at 17, with a further 12 month probationary period.
  • Minimum 100 hours daylight and 20 hours night supervised practice supported by mandatory logbook. This can be completed by an ADI/parent/guardian or other supervising driver
  • Removal of motorway restriction for learner drivers
  • Possibly suggesting lowering of blood alcohol limit to 0.2 g/l for all drivers
  • Possibly suggesting mobile phone ban (including hands free) for all drivers
  • Green P plate legally required for 12 months after passing test
  • No driving between 10pm and 5am unless with adult over 30 during first 12 months of licence
  • Drivers under 30 in their first 12 months of having a licence cannot carry a passenger under 30 unless they are accompanied by another adult over 30
  • Consider lifelong learning with periodic assessment of all drivers by an ADI to maintain licence
  • Consider licensing or regulation for providers of off-road skill training for under-17s
  • Consideration of evaluated national remedial courses for first-time offenders of certain offences (for full licence holders).

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

Comment

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.”

Driver confidence

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.

  • Half (51%) of drivers said they did not feel prepared for motorway driving when they passed their driving test.
  • Just under half (43%) said they felt un-prepared for driving in poor weather.

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.

Less likely to take the test

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.

Disrupting lives

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.

 

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