Police chief pushes for graduated licensing

12.53 | 5 December 2011 | | 10 comments

Newly qualified drivers would be banned from motorways and driving at night under changes being proposed by DCC Suzette Davenport, ACPO lead for policing, reports the Mail Online.

The changes are part of a graduated licence scheme, favoured by DCC Davenport, which would also see novice drivers face limits on how many passengers they can carry and compulsory use of the currently optional ‘P’ plate, which indicates that a driver has recently passed their test.

The Mail Online report says that as a result of the measures, young drivers could receive cheaper car insurance and Britain would fall into line with other countries.

DCC Davenport, who took up the ACPO post six weeks ago, said: “At the moment, people learn to drive mainly in calm residential streets when it’s light. They don’t have much experience of driving on busy A-roads or in the dark.

“Yet as soon as they get a licence they can drive on motorways at speed and carry as many passengers as they like. The vast majority are responsible but some – especially young people – take risks and drive too quickly. I am enthusiastic about graduated licences and would like to put some constraints on new drivers.

“The scheme needs further work on exactly how it would operate, but my view to Ministers is that this needs exploring."

But if the graduated licence is to be adopted, DCC Davenport will have to persuade Mike Penning, road safety minister, to change his mind. Mr Penning believes that restricting new drivers would unfairly penalise those who rely on driving to get to work or college.

Click here to read the full Mail Online report.


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    I totally agree with DCC Davenport and ask readers to look at our site http://www.sensibledriving.org.
    We have been pushing for a GLS for nearly two years in Scotland and have been communicating with Mike Penning MP to try and encorage him to consider changing the law. We also have education as part of our campaign and have just commissioned a new film which was showcased at Vue Cinema, Inverness relating to this issue. Our group – NOSDAT – North Of Scotland Driver Awareness Team also work with families left bereaved by fatal RTCs.
    If you visit our site you will see that we have started an online petition asking for the introduction of a GDLS.
    If you want to know more, please get in touch with me Doug Mackenzie at douglas.mackenzie@scottish.parliament.uk

    NB: We have been asked to attend a conference in Kiev in the New Year to give an input on our campaign.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    The majority of learner drivers have experience of all road types bar motorways, as part of their learning experience. Many instructors advocate bad weather lessons too. To suggest that ADIs are not interested in their client is a poor and sweeping statement.

    Young drivers need to be enouraged to take pride in their driving ability and want to reach the maximum rather than the minimum standrd. Unfortunately there is a lean towards a get by society, often promoted by their parents. If older drivers had a re-education process, including raised awareness in road risk, younger drivers would have more encouragement to protect themselves and others.

    Anne Green BA Dip Di
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I think the suggestion misses the point. Include driving at speed and driving on a busy A-road in the training; where practicable also include motorway driving. Make our new drivers competent before testing them.

    Jim Mennie
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Ms Davenport appears to have missed the point. It’s one thing advocating changes in the law and let’s face it there are far too many nowadays anyway, but who is going to police them?

    Maybe, here’s a thought. Let’s bring back the police traffic department in force and in all counties and fill it with long service officers who have a proven record of traffic offence reporting.

    Whoops, sorry, they don’t exist any more – they have all been pensioned off and newly appointed officers are not taught about road traffic legislation.

    Let’s get serious, there is no way a serious serving senior police officer would believe that the police are going to look at kids in cars. Unless it is a special unit, that is.

    bob craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Dave – you rightly point out that self-enforcement requires education efforts by the authorities in the “absence” of the police. Just because some peoeple do not use seatbelts and then die does not mean the law is wrong – over 90% wear seatbelts because there is a law and because they have been educated about it and the need for it.

    It will be very true that not everyone will obey every new law such as those associated with graduated licensing. But some is better than none.

    I would also think that a layered system may be in place e.g. if there was a prohibition on late night driving then an education course may release that restriction…..seme employers may even pay for that and get involved.

    Pete, Liverpool
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Although RoadDriver is in favour of some form of graduated licencing for young drivers, we would advise caution, for what is being proposed is to restrict the freedom of young people to drive at a time and place of their choice, something that we as adults take for granted.

    In our genuine quest to protect our young from their emotional and impulsive behaviour, we must not alienate them further from society. Many young people already feel excluded by the lack of opportunities afforded to this generation, we need to be careful that we do not compound their difficulties by unnecessarily restricting their movement.

    We should not assume that all young drivers current or prospective are likely to be reckless or irresponsible, but we do need to help educate young people to the dangers that lie ahead of them.

    Research has shown that a young drivers’ lack of knowledge and acquired driving skills is often the cause of accidents. So what does this tell us? RoadDriver believes that this indicates that the DSA driving test is inadequate and that the majority of driving schools are not teaching young people to drive safely. In addition, not enough parents are getting involved in their child’s pre and post driving test experience.

    Scientific studies have proved that the frontal lobes are the last area of the human brain to develop in young people and in most cases do not reach fully functional maturity until the age of 22–25. This research has also shown that you can help develop the frontal lobes of a young person’s brain particularly in the areas that control emotional and impulsive behaviour. Therefore, the DSA needs to improve this area of cognitive testing and development over and above their perceptual hazard tests that most young people treat as a computer game.

    Driving Schools
    The way many driving schools teach young people to drive, is geared mainly to produce referrals for their business. This lack of emphasis on teaching the skills necessary to assess risk or to instil a culture of driving safely among their pupils is a great disservice to the young. There needs to be a minimum amount of professional lessons set before a person can apply for a test (we suggest 40-45 hrs) This will create an even playing field for those driving instructors who do see their job as teaching a pupil to drive safely and not just to get them through the DSA practical test as quickly as possible.

    Studies have revealed that a parents lack of involvement both pre and post driving test can have a dramatic effect on their teenagers attitude towards driving safety. When a young person under the age of 19yrs applies for a provisional driving licence, this should automatically prompt a letter from the DSA to the young person’s parents seeking their active participation in the learning to drive process.

    Parents should be encouraged to set driving guidelines and parameters for their teenagers. It should be the parents who choose the driving school based on the driving schools ethos and ability to teach the necessary skills required to drive safely.

    We need to educate or remind parents of the statistical dangers of teenage driving. The best way of doing this is to make it compulsory for all insurance providers to include young driver risk and crash statistics in their literature and on their websites.

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

    Pete – do people obey the law about hand held mobile phone use? No. Seatbelt law was introduced three decades ago and it was enforced at the time along with a heavyweight publicity campaign to raise awareness. But then we still see people not using them – most car occupant fatalities are not wearing seatbelts.

    The Australian system combines graduated licenses with strict enforcement and intensive training elements, something also seen in Austria. It requires all three elements to be effective not just the graduation of the licence, other wise it’s just postponing the problem.

    Dave, Leeds
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There is evidence from Australia and Austria, to name but two countries where the graduated approach has been shown to work. The Northern Ireland P plate has a similar effect. These graduated systems enable novice drivers to gain basic driving experience before they undertake the more difficult and hazardous elements such as night driving and motorways. Once they have reached a higher level of experience and competence in the basic driving skills, they then have more cognitive processing capacity available to cope with the very significant additional demands that motorway and night driving require. Restricting the number of passengers thay may carry, particularly after dark, similarly reduces risk to all concerned and controls elements of peer group behaviours that have been shown to increase the likelihood of a crash occurring.

    My personal opinion is that this is a proven, systematic approach that is based on good evidence and should be fully considered on its merits.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    On the basis that a law is sensible I cannot agree with the view that it should not be put in place because it may be unenforceable. Most laws are not enforced, but people generally obey them. Do the police enforce seat belt law- not really, but people obey by and large.

    I can see Dave’s points about “just putting the problem back to a later date”, but I would support restrictions being linked to more training which will then reduce the risks. In my view this need not be expensive or complicated training…..just something simple in the early weeks after the holy grail of passing the test would be worth a try.

    Pete, Liverpool
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Would it not be better to properly train new drivers on how to drive on motorways or deal with inclement weather or night driving etc rather than just not letting them do it for a while and then allowing them to – which is largely just an extension of what they get now? These suggested restrictions are likely to be meaningless without the resources to enforce them as new drivers wanting to carry passengers or drive at night will just remove their P plate and do so knowing their highly unlikely to be stopped.

    Dave, Leeds
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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