graduated driving licence scheme for new drivers

A survey, conducted on behalf of the road safety charity Brake and insurance company Axa UK, found 63% of respondents were in favour of the change, with just 16% against.

Brake say drivers under the age of 25 are four times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash if they are driving with others - claiming peer pressure leads to young motorists showing off.

New restrictions would see amendments made to the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act to ban passengers under the age of 25 in the driver's first year or six months.

The Act already bans drivers if they get six points in their first two years of driving.

It has been backed by Support for Victims of Road Crashes - an advisory to the Department of Transport (DfT) - and National Police Chief's Council Roads Policing lead Jo Shiner.

Extra restrictions on newly qualified drivers, which would have seen curfews and limits on passengers in the car, were dismissed in January 2022, because there was a recognition that young drivers needed to use cars for employment. 

Government statistics show as many as a quarter of new drivers are involved in accidents in their first two years on the road. 

The Government met with road safety campaigners in May to discuss the proposals.  

A new report – Driver testing and education –  published today (Friday, July 14) by Brake and Axa UK, challenges the Government to conduct a high-level strategic review of road safety, because safer drivers mean safer roads for all.

The top recommendation from the report is to implement a progressive licensing system that provides safeguards for learner and newly qualified drivers.

A progressive licensing system – which introduces elements such as a minimum learning period and a lower blood alcohol limit, while also reducing the number of similar-aged passengers a newly licensed driver can carry – has proved successful in reducing road deaths and injuries of young drivers in other countries, the charity says.

For example, a similar system in New Zealand led to a 23% reduction in car crash injuries for 15–19-year-olds, and a 12% reduction for 20–24-year-olds.  

There is good evidence that additional hazard perception training is another effective way to improve driver safety, it said.

Ross Moorlock, interim CEO at Brake, said: “This report shows that nearly two-thirds of drivers surveyed said they would support a phased or progressive licensing system, and only one-sixth (16%) would be against it.

“This overwhelming majority demonstrates that there is clear public support and appetite for a system like this, and for ensuring we prioritise the safety of young drivers on our roads.

“We ask the Government to ensure that in another six years we aren’t still asking for a system that we know could help safeguard young and new drivers on our roads.”

The issue was discussed at a recent Fleet News at 10, with proposals to ban drivers under the age of 25 from carrying young passengers as part of a ‘graduated driving licence’ scheme broadly welcomed by fleets.

However, some have suggested that any changes to the licensing regime should avoid penalising those who drive for work.

The report from Brake and Axa also focused on other aspects of system change, lifelong learning and further testing such as clearer speed limit signs on single and dual carriageways, more driver education and awareness around stopping distances, and a further call for a reinvestment in active travel schemes.

Axa Commercial CEO Jon Walker said: “This study raises a number of issues around driver education, testing and licensing that warrant further consideration.

“It’s concerning to see that 71% of respondents were unable to identify the correct distance they should keep from the car in front and 59% chose the incorrect national speed limit on dual carriageways.

“We therefore urge the Government to undertake a high-level strategic review to explore the issues raised in more detail, including the introduction of a graduated driver licensing scheme.”