posted 10 months ago

Driving Test Age Should Rise To 18 To Cut Casualties, Survey Says

Drivers champion raising the age learners can sit the practical driving test to 18 in a bid to improve road safety, survey says.

Driving Test Age Should Rise From 17 To 18 To Improve Safety

The age motorists can sit a practical driving test should rise to 18 in a bid to slash casualty figures, Smart Witness survey respondents claim. The minimum age for a car in the UK is currently 17. Smart Witness – that supplies on-board cameras – says that 63% of respondents argue that the period from 17 to 18 should be a “learner year”.

Motorists would start lessons but wait longer to sit the practical test then drive without supervision. Department for Transport statistics show that 11.9% of collisions where someone is killed or injured involve a motorist aged 17 to 19 – even though this age bracket only makes up 1.5% of license holders.

Cutting Young Driver Casualty Figures

The survey also shows that 76% of respondents would welcome a 12 month probation period for teenagers that pass the practical. A further 62% say that any vehicles should sport “P” for probation plates to emphasise their inexperience to other motorists. Older drivers can then act accordingly by (say) leaving extra space on the approach to roundabouts.

Furthermore, 72% of respondents argue that teenagers caught speeding should be banned immediately. Less popular measures include a night time curfew. Only 34% support measures to prevent teenagers driving between 10pm and 5am unless supervised by a passenger aged 30 plus. 

Smart Witness Chief Executive, Paul Singh, says: "It is sad fact that young motorists drive around 5% of all the miles driven in Britain, but are involved in about 20% of the crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured.” The company claims that road accidents are the biggest killer of young people.

He adds: "It is clear there is overwhelming support for tougher laws governing young drivers”. Options not highlighted in the survey include a graduated licence. The Conservative/Liberal Government considered this concept – and a Transport Research Laboratory report described its benefits as “indisputable” - but it failed to come to fruition. 

The Institute of Advanced Motorists Director of Policy and Research, Neil Greig, has faith in a graduated licence as used elsewhere. He says: “In Australia, you have to log the hours you do on different roads so you do a couple of hours at night time, at high speed, in bad weather – and you actually put all that in a logbook.”

The road safety experts adds: “They say about 120 hours are required, which over the course of a year isn’t that much. But there’s a huge amount of evidence that proves this is successful.”