Teenagers may have to wait until they are 18 before being able to drive, it has emerged.
A Department for Transport report commissioned by the government has looked at a number of ways to cut the number of accidents and deaths that involve young drivers, one of which involves raising the legal minimum driving age from 17 to 18 years old.
The proposal would also require a new driver to clock up 120 hours of supervised practice, 20 of which would have to be at night, before taking their driving test. After passing, a new driver under the age of 30 would be on probation for a year.
The government believes making it mandatory to display the often mocked green P plate would make it easier for police to enforce new driving restrictions.
Other new rules put forward by Transport Research London would include a ban on night-time driving, a lower drink-drive limit and restrictions on the use of a hands-free mobile device for a new driver of any age.
Given that one fifth of people killed or injured in an accident were aged 24 and under, according to the DfT, it’s a noble cause. But will delaying the inevitable cut casualties by an estimated 4,471 cases? Author of the report Dr Shaun Helman believes it will. “The reasoning behind this is that the evidence shows both youth and inexperience are factors in determining crash risk,” he said.
Citing the successes of graduated licensing in Australia, New Zealand and certain states in the US, he added: “The evidence is compelling.”
While the legislation is proving popular for most road safety groups, including the Association of British Insurers, Edmund King of the AA voiced his concerns.
“The restrictions on carrying young passengers is a priority because of the potential for four or five people to be killed in a single incident and it is often these passengers who are distracting the driver.
“However, at the extreme end this report could be seen as just recommending taking novice drivers off the road by regulation and restriction rather than helping them develop the right attitudes and skills to provide them with the mobility they need.”
The DfT hopes to publish its report of the proposed legislation by the end of 2013.
Most of us would probably agree to disagree on what age is appropriate to start learning to drive, but few can argue that more experience before being unleashed alone on public roads can only be a good thing, whether you are 17 or 18. What do you reckon?