GDL announcement: stakeholder reaction

11.45 | 18 July 2019 | |

Image: IAM RoadSmart

Stakeholders have broadly welcomed news the Government is considering introducing graduated driver licensing in England – although concerns have been voiced over restrictions to night time driving.

On 18 July, the Government committed to review and consult on graduated driver licencing (GDL) as part of its road safety action plan, set to be published later this week.

Any 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.

What do the stakeholders say?
The announcement has been met with support from stakeholders, with IAM RoadSmart describing the news as ‘a great first step’ to improving the safety of young drivers.

Road Safety GB also backs GDL – saying 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.”

Meanwhile Brake, a long-term supporter of GDL, is calling for ‘swift and decisive action’ to introduce the policy.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, said: “We must improve young drivers’ safety and this starts with making licensing more robust, so that when a young driver passes their test, they have all the necessary tools and knowledge to drive safely on all roads and in all conditions.”

Night time restrictions – an area of controversy?
One area of concern surrounds night time driving – which could be restricted under GDL.

IAM RoadSmart says it is ‘not convinced’ a night-time driving ban for young drivers is needed alongside other new restrictions.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “We strongly support many of the key components of a successful GDL scheme, but we still need to be convinced that night-time curfews will work and support a pilot scheme first.  

“Gaining the right experience behind the wheel is the key to a lifetime of safe driving; restricting the opportunity to learn how to drive safely at night seems counterintuitive.”

This concern is echoed by the RAC.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “GDL has the benefit of providing a more controlled environment when learning how to drive, however this must be balanced so it does not disadvantage young drivers who need to use vehicles for night work.”



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