Driving licences should be graduated, says RAC Foundation

learner driver Novice drivers could face four years of restrictions

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Learner drivers in the UK should face a graduated system of licences to help reduce road deaths, says a report by the RAC Foundation.

The study suggests that hundreds of lives a year could be saved if such a system were adopted.

New drivers would face a four-year learning period during which they would be subject to restrictions.

The United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand already have graduated learning for drivers.

The RAC Foundation said such countries had seen a significant reduction in the number of young people being killed in accidents.

Deaths among 17- to 24-year-olds have fallen by up to 60%, and the number of overall casualties has fallen by up to 32%.

"Putting a firm number on casualty reduction is hard because of the pick-and-mix approach to graduated licensing," said Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.

"But the evidence suggests that a full package of measures could reduce fatalities by anything up to 60%," he said.

In the UK, one in five novice drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test.

In 2011, more than 1,500 young drivers were killed or seriously injured, a rate of four a day, said the Foundation.

New system

The report says that the first 1,000 miles of driving may be the most important for cutting the risk of an accident.

woman learner driver Drivers could also face a stricter drink-drive limit, under the proposals

So it is calling for a three-stage, graduated, system. New drivers would face restrictions for four years:

  • Stage one

A one-year minimum driving period, before the test is taken. Drivers would need to experience a wide range of conditions, including winter driving and night driving.

  • Stage two

After the test is taken, drivers would face restrictions for a further year. The number of passengers they could carry might be limited, and night driving might also be restricted.

  • Stage three

A further two-year probationary period. If during the period a driver receives six penalty points, they would have to take a re-test.

The Foundation would also like to see a stricter drink-drive limit.

At the moment the legal maximum is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

But this figure could be reduced to 50mg.


Earlier this year, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said young drivers could save up to 20% on their insurance premiums, if restrictions were put in place for newly-qualified drivers.

This might include limits on night-time driving, and restrictions on the number of passengers they are able to carry.

As a result new drivers might be able to save as much as £370 a year.

The government is currently considering a range of similar proposals, and will shortly decide whether to change the rules on driving tests.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    The first thing I noticed when driving on my own was that the driving I had to do to pass my test was nothing like the driving of the others around me. Speed limits ignored, indicators not used and road signs meant nothing. Experience may make a good driver, but it has a habit of making it a complacent driver too. The actions and behaviour of other drivers does have an influence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 246.

    I work near a college and every single day I see teenagers driving mummy or daddy's car with their mates showing off and causing danger. Roads are now busier and cars more powerful - something's got to be done. How about no passengers for the first year?

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    I definitely think Motorway tuition should be compulsory. The woeful lack of understanding by a lot of motorway users (of all descriptions) is lamentable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    As a qualified Driving Instructor, perhaps if we actually taught the youth of today how to actually DRIVE rather than PASS A TEST it would help.
    The current test is completely outdated and wrong, they should be tested at Night, on a Skid Pan etc it should not be left to chance and we have a Duty to make the changes and protect our Children. Wake up Driving Standards Agency

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    There should be a strict control on the number of times somebody can take the test, say 5 times.
    If somebody needs 83 tests to finally pass, I don't want them on the roads, ever.
    I'd be a lousy driver, I'm far too nervous. I choose not to drive for the safety of everybody else.


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