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Driving test reforms put on ice amid youth employment fears

Driving test reforms put on hold as ministers argue about how to proceed.

Plans to tackle young driver deaths by reforming the driving test have been stopped after Cabinet ministers expressed fears that doing so could have a negative effect on youth employment. The proposals designed to tackle the issue of inexperienced motorists, one of which involved increasing the minimum driving age to 18, will be postponed until the New Year instead of at the end of 2013 as previously stated.

Driving test reforms have been put on hold until 2014.
Driving test reforms have been put on hold until 2014.

Raising the driving age could make it more difficult for young people trying to get to work or college, particularly in rural areas where public transport is infrequent at best and non-existent at worst, ministers believe.

“It will take longer than we thought,” a Daily Mail source explained. “People in different departments have different opinions. Youth unemployment is an issue. We are in difficult economic circumstances. Some felt it may interfere with the ability of young shift-workers to secure or keep their jobs if they were unable to drive unrestricted.”

“There’s a lot of opposition in some quarters about anything which restricts young people’s ability to get a job. There was concern about the effect on employment,” the source added.

A number of ideas had been raised to tackle young driver accidents, including making green ‘P’ plates mandatory for the first year after passing, curfews on when young drivers can be on the roads, a minimum of 120 hours of supervised driving, 20 hours of which would be at night, and a lower drink-drive limit.

The Daily Mail claims part of the postponement comes from concern about addressing the issue ahead of the polls prior to the next election in May 2015. Adjusting the minimum driving age and making it more difficult to pass would undoubtedly prove unfavourable among young voters.

Government statistics show young drivers account for 5 per cent of all miles covered, yet represent 20 per cent of crashes where death or serious injury is the outcome.

Is a driving test reform necessary or should we look elsewhere to combat the problem?

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