Are graduated driving licences coming in?

Are graduated driving licences coming in?

Are graduated driving licences coming in?

Good news for new drivers. The proposed graduated driving licence scheme has been cancelled by the Department for Transport.

The graduated driving licence scheme would have seen restrictions being placed on young drivers, for example curfew and limits on passengers in the car. However, the scheme was scrapped because many young people needed to drive for employment.

In June 2019 learner drivers were granted permission to have lessons on Britain’s motorways. Another positive move for young drivers.

What is a graduated driving licence?

A graduated driving licence would put a set of restrictions on new drivers who have recently passed their theory test and practical exam, for an initial period of time.

Government statistics repeatedly suggest as many as a quarter of newly-qualified motorists are involved in an accident during their first two years on the road – with 400 young UK drivers sustaining serious or fatal injuries each year.

Although no countrywide scheme is currently in place, the government was exploring its possibilities, with the ultimate aim of reducing this worrying number of early-stage accidents. However the scheme has now been scrapped.

What could be restricted under a UK graduated driving licence?

Graduated driving licences

Possible restrictions would centre on:

  • driving curfews – restricting new drivers from roads during certain times
  • passenger numbers – legal limits on how full a new driver’s car can be
  • lower alcohol limits – reduction in the legal threshold for blood readings
  • speed limits – new drivers restricted to slower speeds
  • engine sizes – power output limits put on the new drivers’ vehicles
  • mandatory ‘P’ plates – required for up to two years after passing a test

It is thought a period of restriction – approximately six months – could also be put on learner drivers, during which they would not be able to apply to take a driving test.

Any ban on passengers would be unlikely to include immediate family members, it is understood.

What stage is the graduated driving licence at?

In February 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May tasked the Department for Transport (DfT) with investigating the possibility of a graduated licencing scheme.

She was responding to questions posed from the opposition bench during Prime Minister’s Questions as to whether an initiative would be considered to help curb the number of accidents.

In April 2018 it was revealed that a ‘pilot’ graduated scheme will be launched in Northern Ireland during 2019/20.

In October 2020 it was announced that the graduated licence scheme had been scrapped by The Department for Transport. Instead the government proposed restructuring driving lessons to enable stronger tuition.

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Where else uses a graduated driving licence?

Drivers in the US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand are already subject to the rules of their own graduated licencing schemes.

Novice drivers in the Republic of Ireland undergo a two-year period of probation, with ‘N’ plates a necessity throughout, and are also subject to lower drink-drive limits than more experienced road users.

In parts of the US, and Down Under, new drivers are not permitted to drive at night without being accompanied by an experienced driver. They also face limitations to the number of passengers allowed to share a ride.

While it is expected to be considered, a repeat of any ‘dark driving’ ban here in the UK is seen as unlikely, due to our early winter sunsets and the likelihood of new drivers having to drive home from work in the dark.

Could a graduated driving licence affect my car insurance?

With the possible restrictions a graduated driving licence would impose, it is natural to think that those restrictions may affect any insurance policy you take out.

Additionally, the restrictions may create questions over whether a traditional twelve-month insurance policy is worth what can be particularly expensive for new drivers.

Traditional car insurance can seem like a great expense to new drivers, so some look for alternative methods of insurance that might be cheaper.

There is currently no evidence to suggest that a graduated driving license would affect the way drivers are insured, though the potential limitations on speed and a curfew suggested for these drivers may change the types of policies that a holder of a graduated driving licence could take out.

For example, black box car insurance currently monitors how well you drive, including the speed a vehicle travels on each journey. Others, such as Pay by Mile, may only allow those over the age of 21.

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What do RAC experts say about graduated driving licences?

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams says the motoring group welcomes plans to look into graduated driving licences, having requested a review in previous years.

“The RAC has been calling for a reform of driving education for young people and the introduction of graduated driving licences with a minimum supervised learning period and restrictions on the number of passengers permitted in the car, so this would be a very positive step towards preventing the loss of young lives on our roads,” he said.

The RAC’s Report on Motoring showed that over a third (35%) of young drivers feel the standard driving test does not cover all the skills required to cope with the demands of driving today.

It also said that more restrictions could have a positive impact on new drivers with costs for car insurance likely to fall if younger motorists were kept on a tighter leash. 

Mr Williams adds: “Evidence from other countries where some form of graduated driver licensing is used shows that it has been successful in reducing the number of collisions involving young drivers, but in order for it to be as effective as possible it has to be part of an overall package of measures including more extensive driver education.

“We welcome a commonsense approach to driver education such as the recent decision to allow probationary licence holders to take lessons on motorway driving.”

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