New drivers could face restrictions on what they can do on the road following the announcement that the Government is considering introducing a graduated driver licensing (GDL) scheme in England.
The Government will commit to review and consult on GDL in its road safety action plan, to be published later this week.
A GDL scheme is likely to place restrictions on new drivers, such as a minimum learning period, not driving at night, or not driving with passengers under a certain age in the car.
The Government points to stats showing that one in five new drivers crashes within their first year on the road, and says any changes would be designed to help reduce collisions and improve road safety.
Michael Ellis, road safety minister said: “Getting a driving licence is exciting for young people, but it can also be daunting as you’re allowed to drive on your own for the first time.
“We want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it, can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads.
The move has been welcomed by stakeholders, including Road Safety GB, who says new drivers require further learning and more experience to become ‘qualified’.
Alan Kennedy, executive director of Road Safety GB, said: “Earning the full driving licence is an exciting time for a new driver, but we must change the perception that passing the test means that the new driver is ‘qualified’.
“New drivers are most vulnerable in the first year of driving and we must find a means to instill a new belief that the test is only the first stage, and that further learning and more experience is required to become a ‘qualified’ driver.
“Restricting new drivers in the first year may bring benefits to those who have just passed their test, however, not all new driviers will have regular access to a vehicle, and Road Safety GB would welcome further training to increase skill and awareness and to push new drivers towards advanced driving standards.”
How have we got to this stage?
Graduated licensing schemes already operate in New Zealand, New South Wales and Victoria in Australia, New York and California in the USA, Ontario and British Columbia in Canada, and in Sweden. GDL is also currently being piloted in Northern Ireland.
GDL has, until now, been rejected by the Government due to concerns that it would ‘adversely affect the ability of young people to get on in life’, by potentially restricting education and jobs.
However, the Government now says conducting further research ‘will enable the DfT to build an evidence base to fully understand how graduated driver might work’.
Currently, new drivers have their licences revoked if they accumulate six points within the first two years after passing the practical driving test.
The Government introduced changes to the driving test in December 2017 to reflect modern-world driving conditions, including adding a satellite navigation section.
Learner drivers are now also allowed to travel on motorways with an approved driving instructor to acclimatise new drivers to these roads.
The Government says any potential GDL scheme will be consulted on before being introduced.