Transport minister considers options to curb young driver deaths

12.00 | 19 November 2012 | | 10 comments

Young drivers could face a ban on carrying anyone other than family members as passengers under proposals being considered by the Government to cut the number of road collisions involving teenagers (Telegraph).

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, said he was ready to look at measures which could reduce the number of collisions involving novice motorists and cut the cost of providing them insurance cover.

Patrick McLoughlin said: “I read regular reports where three or four young people have been killed in a car and it’s a new driver and you wonder what happened. When I talk to young people who have recently passed their test what they say sometimes there is peer pressure is put on them to go fast, to show off.

“They are not anticipating an accident, but something goes wrong. They are not drivers with a huge amount of experience by the very fact of their being new drivers. I think we have got to look at that.

“There is a suggestion as to whether you should look at a restriction whether anyone could carry passengers for six or nine months when they have first passed their test. There are suggestions about them only perhaps being allowed to take a family member. To drive a car when you are learning, you have to have a qualified driver in the car. So these are all sorts of areas that I think we can we can look at.

“It is not an area I have closed my mind to, far from it.”

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) believes restricting the number of passengers is a move that the Government should take, and a YouGov survey to be released next week will show significant public support for curbs on young drivers, according to the Telegraph.

The Government has faced calls from the ABI and road safety groups to introduce graduated driver licensing (GDL), which would impose additional restrictions on drivers who have just passed their test. Up until now the Government has resisted moves to introduce GDL in England and Wales.

Professor Stephen Glaister, RAC Foundation director, said: “We need to stop young people killing themselves – and others – on the roads. Casualties have been in decline but this age group is still shockingly over-represented in the stats.

“If a modest curb on driving privileges can lead to a meaningful drop in death and injuries – and evidence from abroad suggests it can – then we would support some form of graduated licensing.”

Edmund King, the AA’s president, voiced doubts on imposing a ban on carrying passengers. He said: “It is something we think is extremely impractical. We think it is sometimes useful to have a designated driver, who takes three mates home rather than having them travel in separate cars.

“I can’t see how this will be enforced. How can you tell whether somebody in the car is a family member or not? What family members are included? Do they mean someone older? What is their role? These things sound reasonable but in practical terms they are very tricky.”

Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said: “Young drivers remain a key area where we need to make progress. They are the economic future of our country.

“As well as looking at post-test restrictions, we also need to improve driver training and instruction and the quality of learning. In that way, we can build quality driver learning.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    Duncan Mackillop spoke about GDL not working for motorcyclists and suggested that it would do no better for cars.

    The problem with GDL and motorcyclists is that it is aimed at the most vulnerable of riders ie 16 to 23 yrs of age, on small bikes and scooters and whilst indeed they represent the majority of minor accidents on twv it is the number of KSIs, the fatalities and serious injuries, that stand motorcyclists apart from other road users.

    Those are not represented by the introduction of GDL as they are the over 35yrs of age and unregulated. These accidents occur on country roads either on bends or through inappropriate overtaking or inappropriate use of speed. GDL has no effect on those statistics whatsoever.

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

    As from the RSGB conference, we are now an award winning campaign and feel that changing young people’s fundamental attitudes is better than restricting young drivers.

    I know it’s a big ask, but if we can change attitudes, it’s more of a long term solution.

    BBC News asked us to come in and comment on this story, our interview can be seen at

    More info on our site.

    Mike, from (London)
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Even if the test were raised to an advanced standard some new drivers would still pose a higher crash risk. It is these drivers that need graduated licensing – there is ample evidence from other countries that these schemes can be effective.

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

    The idea that we need to restrict people post test seems to suggest that the learning process up to and including the test currently isn’t right. Surely the idea of a licence is that you’re fit & capable to drive. Instead of imposing restriction post test perhaps ensuring that what happens pre-test actually prepares people to drive; with passengers, in the dark, in adverse weather etc is the way forward. Staged or graduated licensing seems to be a logical conclusion. Provided of course that it’s backed up with suitable education and enforcement.

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

    During the last general election the Conservative Party campaigned against road safety initiatives relating to speed control. It argued for a shift in emphasis to issues like drug driving. While I support initiatives to better manage vulnerable groups it is vital to remember that the Conservative Party is still looking for ways to distract all from the core message – “speed kills”.

    Jon Fuller. Westcliff on Sea
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Lots of us are aware of the awful statistics relating to the deaths and serious injuries in RTAs involving inexperienced (often young) drivers. Many other civilised countries have introduced life-saving, restrictive measures. Surely, we can all agree that doing nothing is not an option.

    Peter, Wirral
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In the first few months post-test, young novice drivers need two things: supervised practice at driving in situations with high task difficulty with which they are currently unfamiliar (e.g., complex junctions, joining motorways, way-finding in strange places, rush hour congestion, night driving, inclement weather); and restrictions on driving in circumstances where their capability is compromised (e.g., nighttime fatigue, drink and drugs, exuberant passengers and other distractions).

    Steve Stradling, Manchester
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Graduated Driver Licencing has not worked for motorcycle riders, so why should anybody think it would do better for car drivers? The problem with young drivers can be largely solved by working out how you might compress 30 years of driving experience down to one or two days of practical instruction. Young drivers can soak up and retain knowledge and skills far easier than us old ‘uns, yet this ability is almost never used during driver training.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Yesterday, I spoke at the Service in St Johns Gardens, Liverpool for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. The World Health Organisation designated “Learning from the Past” as the Global theme. I adopted this for my own speech, during which I referred to our new Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McCloughlin. In his early life Mr McCloughlin was a farmer and a miner. I made the analogy that I hoped he would use what he learnt about digging in those roles to metaphorically dig down into the problems we have with road safety, find solutions, put them into practice, test them and, if they don’t work, dig deeper to find the underlying problems, etc. We know that the issues are complex (not just around young or inexperienced drivers) and there is no one size fits all strategy. It is heartening that Mr McCloughlin already appears to be proactive in picking up on a variety of issues which concern us all. Let us hope that this turns into appropriate action.
    However, Edmund King makes several valid points; not least that improved driver training pre and post test is vital. We must be open to new ideas and look at what works in other countries – Sweden is a good example not so far away.

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

    Most people self-enforce and in the case of young drivers, their parents and employers wil also assist in encouragement and awareness of any GDL rules. And of course if GDL comes in, then there will be publicity plus coverage in the driving test.

    Most driving behaviours are unpoliced most of the time and the practical aspects of any GDL enforcement should not bar introduction of measures. Clearly the simpler the rules, the simpler understanding and self enforcement would be.

    I don’t see the “family member” rule being useful. Stick to simple things like age and number of passengers and easy to remember times of day/night.

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

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