Road Safety News

Government ‘failing to prioritise young driver safety’: GEM

Monday 20th March 2017

GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the Government to introduce a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system, pointing to a new survey which suggests there is public support for the move.

Published on Friday (17 Mar), GEM says more than 90% of respondents to its survey agreed the UK driving test is ‘no longer fit for purpose’, and that it should be replaced by a GDL system.

According to GEM road safety officer Neil Worth, GDL adds that ‘all-important intermediate element’ between learner and full licence holder, and allows new drivers to build up their skills and experience over a period of time, using clearly-marked stages.

The road safety organisation points to TRL research which shows that 16-year-old drivers in the USA who learnt to drive through GDL systems had 37% fewer crashes than those who followed other systems. It also says that following the introduction of GDL in New Zealand, injuries from road traffic collisions ‘reduced by almost a quarter for 15- to 19-year olds’.

GEM says the move would be supported by many road safety organisations, public health bodies and research institutes, and should include a number of ‘key components’, including a minimum learning period of 12 months before taking a practical test.

GEM adds that drivers should hold ‘novice’ status for two years after passing the test, with a ban on these drivers carrying passengers aged under 25 years. It also recommends a night-time driving curfew, unless driving to or from work, and an automatic disqualification for any driving offence.

In May 2016, the Government announced that it is set to make changes to the practical driving test in a bid to ensure it reflects the modern driving experience.

Neil Worth said: “GEM members are holding the Government to account for failing to prioritise young driver safety, and for wasting lives and money. We believe that GDL, if it goes hand in hand with improvements to public transport across the country, could form a key part of a safer and more sustainable transport future for everyone.”

Want to know more about driver training/learner drivers and road safety
Key facts and summaries of research reports - visit the Road Safety Observatory
Online library of research and reports etc - visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre


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I feel that we should go back to some basics. On speaking to a new driver recently she had no idea what was contained in the Highway Code. Apparently there was no reference to it during her training. So how are new drivers to know about many things that are important and should be the basics of becoming not only a safer driver but a considerate one as well.
gill craven

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

David, yes I am not in agreement with that at all - I think it's unjust and counter-productive. In what other realm are novices expected to perform to a higher level of excellence than experts, and suffer heavy penalties if they fail to live up to that expectation?
Charles, England

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

Charles, I think most people would look at the proposed disqualification of young drivers for any driving offence, and take it to mean an endorseable offence. I apologise if my agreement with that idea conveyed to you the impression that a faulty number plate lamp should lead to the loss of a driving licence. Can I take it from your argument that you are not in agreement with the current system of licence revocation for 6, or more, points accrued during the first two years of driving?
David, Suffolk

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

I was more or less OK with the idea until I got to the "automatic disqualification for any driving offence". That is too harsh and betrays the motives here as perhaps scapegoating the driver rather than improving road safety. There is no mention of only safety-related offences or allowances for context. There are so many unnecessary technical offences associated with driving now that to ban a driver for contravening one of them without examining the context is simply a step too far. Would anyone here be happy if their son or daughter was banned from driving, 23 months after passing their test, for say, having a faulty number plate lamp in broad daylight? And why should penalties for novice drivers be harsher than for experienced drivers - surely it should be the other way round?
Charles, England

Agree (9) | Disagree (1)

On the face of it, those statistics from the USA & NZ are most impressive. If similar improvements in risk could be achieved here, then the Govt. would be foolish not to closely examine how it might be implemented.

Disqualification for any offence for the first two years of one's driving career would do much to make the holding of a licence a privilege, and not a right.
David, Suffolk

Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

GEM's comments are too much of a blunt instrument. GDL requires a bit more finesse in the fine detailing. And it requires "rural proofing" to avoid alienating the younger community in sparsely populated areas a long way off bus routes.
Pat, Wales

Agree (9) | Disagree (1)