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Revhead Ramblings: New Drivers – Is The UK Lagging Behind The Rest of the World?

Passing your driving test is huge for any new driver, after months of preparation you’re now trusted behind the wheel by yourself without any restrictions, is this safe though?

Government statistics show that 1 in 4 drivers are involved in an accident within the first 2 years of driving and around 400 deaths or serious injuries involve young drivers.

In an effort to stop this, the government are looking to introduce a graduated license system already seen across the globe. The Association of British Insurers are calling for similar changes, including variations to the driving test system and a minimum learning period.

Potential Restrictions

The main restrictions that are being discussed are limits on the number of passengers a new driver can carry and the time at which a new driver can be on the road. Driving at night brings a whole new set of challenges, obstacles are harder to see, judging corners can be more challenging and you may be blinded by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

In Germany, before new drivers are allowed to drive at night or on the motorway, they must complete extra lessons with an instructor before being released by themselves. Driving with friends can lead drivers to take extra risks, such as speeding and undertaking dangerous manoeuvres.

Graduated License

new driver L plate

In New Zealand there are three stages to obtaining a full license, at 15 you can drive with an experienced driver over the age of 20, bearing ‘L’ plates at all times, then, after 6 months you can then apply for a restricted license that allows you to drive by yourself within certain times and without passengers unless accompanied by an experienced driver.

A restricted license must be held for at least 18 months for anyone under the age of 25 (6 months if you’re older) before they can apply for a full license. Professor Stephen Glaister from the RAC said: “Graduated licensing has been common in many countries for some time and would help keep newly qualified young drivers, and their passengers, safe during the critical first thousand miles after people have passed their test”.

Test Reform

It’s argued that these new restrictions wouldn’t be necessary if the learning and testing phases were more up to date. An RAC report showed 35% of young drivers felt that the standard driving test doesn’t cover all the skills required to cope with the day to day demands of driving.

Learner drivers are now allowed on motorways to develop their skills, however with no minimum number of lessons, new drivers can be completely unprepared for the challenges they may face.

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