ABI calls for radical overhaul for learner and newly qualified drivers

12.00 | 9 November 2012 | | 6 comments

The Government should introduce a minimum learning period of one year, restrictions on night time driving and a lower blood alcohol limit, according to a report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The ABI says the report, ‘Improving the Safety of Young Drivers’, provides evidence showing why urgent action is needed to reduce the high crash risk for young drivers, and to lower their motor insurance costs.

ABI research reveals that 27% of motor personal injury insurance claims of more than £500,000 resulted from a crash involving a driver aged 17-24 years. Young drivers are also far more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in multiple high value bodily injury claims, reflecting the increased risk they face of having a serious crash while carrying passengers.

The report looks at how other countries tackle the issue, including the use of graduated licensing in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. A similar system will also be introduced in Northern Ireland.

To combat the problem, ABI is calling for a number of measures including: a minimum 12-month learning period before taking the driving test; a ban on taking an intensive driving course as the sole means of learning to drive; lowering the age at which young people can start learning to drive to 16 and a half; and graduated driver licensing.

During the first six months after passing the driving test, the ABI also advocates restrictions on driving between 11pm and 4am – with exemptions for journeys to work and in connection with education. During the graduated phase, the ABI also proposes a lower blood alcohol limit; in effect, a ‘zero’ limit with the exception of consumption of alcohol through products such as mouthwash.

Otto Thoresen, ABI’s director general, said: “Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads. A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.

“We have all side-stepped this issue for too long. Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today’s young drivers become tomorrow’s safer motorists.”

Click here to read the report.


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    My experience as a driving instructor, motorcyclist and cyclist is that everybody out there drives the way they want based on their own destination imperative, with little or no adherence to the rules of the road and safety of especially vulnerable road users. Young people aspire to do it like everyone else but don’t have the experience, skills or self reference to recognise and avoid danger. All drivers need an update, an overhaul and retraining/progressive training if anything is going to change in the long run.

    Ian Canham, Bolton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (2)

    I like the idea; as the roads are getting congested, all young, old, including foreign drivers, EU Nationals should be put to similar to MOT type tests regularly to weed out bad ones. I carry out road safety work and too many people are getting injured on the roads in the UK due to bad behaviour of drivers. The successive UK governments ought to take this seriously.

    S. Senthi Senthitselvan
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Whilst I do not think that short, intensive driving courses are a fantastic way of learning to drive, it would be very interesting to find out what percentage of new drivers gain their full licence by such courses. Are these courses the great evil that many perceive them to be?

    David, Suffolk
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    David Midmer is absolutely right to state that the abolishment of intensive driving courses is necessary if we are to reinforce the message that learning to drive should be safety driven and not determined by how quick an ADI can get a pupil through the test, this change of emphasis on safety will safe lives’ and benefit driving schools financially.

    However, the most important point that David makes is the involvement of parents both in the learning to drive process and by setting a good driving example themselves for their young to follow. If parents were to take more of an interest in their offspring’s driving behaviour and attitude to road safety before and after they pass their test, many lives could be saved.

    Charles Dunn RoadDriver.co.uk
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Coincidentally, I was in communication with the BBC only yesterday, mainly on “Crash not Accident” but including the subjects of driver training and testing, post test training, use of telematics, eye tests and regular assessment at licence renewal plus the associated issues highlighted by the ABI for the young and newly qualified. I’m very pleased to see the ABI calling for the abolishment of intensive courses – this can never allow for learner centred training as there is simply not enough time to develop their own understanding. The culture is too much of scraping through the test and then doing what you like. Only when we are able to change public perception and attitude can things begin to improve. Initiatives such as Good Egg and the Engage scheme here on Merseyside can help by involving parents in their children’s training.

    David Midmer, Grade 6 ADI and Fleet Trainer, Wirral
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    All the measures so far (e.g. theory test, hazard perception test, different practical test marking criteria, New Drivers Act) have failed to rein in the minority of young drivers who seem to drive the way they want once licensed, so some form of graduated licensing is bound to come in at some point.

    We must ensure what is brought in is fair to young drivers. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

    Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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