The vast majority of drivers think we need to toughen-up the process of learning to drive in order to save young lives. A survey by the charity Brake shows 87% want learner drivers to gain a specified minimum level of experience behind the wheel before they can take their test.
First of all, drivers want to see pre-test rules tightened:
* 9 out of 10 are in favour of statutory on-road experience, and
* 59% want learners to have compulsory lessons with an instructor.
Then, once learners have passed their test, 81% of British drivers think there should be a probationary period with certain restrictions, including:
* a zero drink-drive limit;
* a ban on driving powerful vehicles;
* a curfew on night driving;
* a ban on driving on motorways;
* and a ban on carrying lots of passengers who are not family members.
Many of these restrictions are already enforced in other countries. Three out of four drivers in favour of restrictions (75%) said they should be imposed until a driver was at least 20 years old.
What's perhaps most interesting about these findings is that while older respondents were more likely to be in favour of restrictions on young drivers, a large proportion of young drivers themselves are also in favour of restrictions. Even among the youngest age group surveyed (aged 17-24), more than half (54%) thought restrictions should be imposed.
What is the government planning to do?
The Government is planning to roll out a road safety pre-driver qualification that can be taught in schools. From October 2009 this qualification will count as a partial credit towards the theory test for car drivers. But Brake's survey shows almost four in five (79%) say the Government should go even further and make road safety a compulsory school subject.
Facts about young and newly-qualified drivers
• One in eight UK car drivers is under 25, 1 but one in three drivers who die on UK roads is under 25.
• Three-quarters of drivers passing their driving test each year are under 25.
• People who start driving aged 27 are about 30% safer than people who start driving aged 17.
• One in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test.
• The average 17-year-old who passes their driving test is more than 50% safer after one year and after two years is two-thirds less likely to have a crash.
• Many newly-qualified drivers still identify areas where they need to improve their own performance.
• Employers do not feel that newly-qualified drivers are sufficiently trained to drive for work.