Government to explore GDL for new drivers

07.56 | 18 July 2019 | | 6 comments

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.



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    So one in five new drivers crashes within their first year on the road: but we don’t know if that is good, or bad, compared to other drivers. Surely we need to know how many crash in their second, third, and subsequent years too – before we can possibly offer an informed opinion on the way forward on this. Also we need to know the other factors involved such as purpose or journey, traffic levels, weather conditions, road locations, etc., etc., etc.

    Do we have any evidence that tinkering such as this is likely to have a benefit on crash reduction which outweighs the cost of it in terms of loss of personal freedoms? I think we need to avoid condemning a generation of new drivers to the unforeseen consequences of any such ill-founded law.

    Charles, Wells
    Agree (14) | Disagree (6)

    > On the other side of the coin, one could argue that many young people do pass their test, drive accident-free and go on to be accident-free motoring throughout their motoring lives


    Something to add to the disagreement I’ve had in my previous post however, in my nearly 8 years of driving, I have had two vehicles shunt the back of my car – both of which were very minor, thankfully.

    One chap had passed his test two weeks before ending up in the back of me, and the other lass about 2 months. All at less than 5mph, and both incidents that having graduated licensing in place wouldn’t have prevented.

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

    Doesn’t the need for GDL suggest that the driving test itself is not a thorough enough ‘test’?

    On the other side of the coin, one could argue that many young people do pass their test, drive accident-free and go on to be accident-free motoring throughout their motoring lives.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (13) | Disagree (4)

    Having driven in a number of countries besides the UK, I still think we are among a handful of countries with a high standard of driving.

    After all, as an Approved Driving Instructor, part of my job is to teach my pupils to be considerate to other drivers on the road. That doesn’t happen in some other countries.

    The US, for example, has more of a graded licence system with different restrictions in each state. But it’s also a country where, in certain states, you can drive at the age of 13 or 14 because of the farming economy. And still, some pretty bad driving on the Interstate highways.

    It’s a consultation process – and that’s the important thing to remember. It’s the conversation about this subject that will have us all looking harder at what standards we really want, and how important it is to have MORE training EARLIER.

    It could be good for my driving school business – – by providing more lessons, but it might also be headache with more standards, regimes etc to comply with.

    I welcome the public conversation.

    Driving Memories, Borehamwood, Herts
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    The evidence is clear that newer drivers are more at risk. Therefore it is certain that something more should be done to reduce this risk. Whilst lowering the statistical risk to the same level as the wider driving population should be the ultimate aim, even getting part way is worthwhile. The first thing to do would be to create 3 license types compared to the current two i.e. provisional, new, full. The debate will then need to be around what package of restrictions (and support/training) goes into the “new driver” category. For example perhaps black box recorders (insurance devices) may be deemed suitable mitigation compared to other more binary measures like passenger limits. This is all likely to be quite complex and would require insurers and DfT to share ideas to create a simple to understand system.

    Peter Whitfield, Liverpool
    Agree (3) | Disagree (6)

    I presume that Michael Ellis MP, the member for Northampton has never needed to drive at night when he was younger?

    As someone who is no longer a “young” driver by a year, I shouldn’t feel outraged but I am, because well, I was a young driver once. I suppose that Michael Ellis MP would prefer five vehicles travelling at night safely down a motorway, full of 22 year olds, as opposed to *one*, also driving safely?

    Yet another backwards step for road safety and the environment if this goes ahead.

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (10) | Disagree (9)

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