Should new drivers face tighter restrictions after 6,000 serious crashes?

Should younger drivers

Almost 30,000 people were killed or seriously injured on UK roads in 2022 - and a fifth of those were the result of collisions involving cars driven by a young car driver, according to the Department for Transport.

Young males aged 17 to 24 are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a road collision than all other drivers aged 25 or over.

But road novices who have just passed their test are subject to almost all the same rules as their more experienced counterparts - and change is being demanded.

Calls are growing for the government to introduce a "graduated driving licence", which would apply tighter restrictions on all drivers with less than six months experience.

The idea is being introduced to Parliament by Labour MP Kim Leadbeater and is backed by various road safety organisations.

Why introduce new rules for new drivers?

Ms Leadbeater said improving road safety in the UK has been one of her "top priorities" since meeting a campaigner whose daughter was killed in a collision.

Dr Ian Greenwood lost 12-year-old Alice when the car her mother was driving was hit in 2008. The 18-year-old driver of the other car and his 16-year-old passenger were also killed.

He is far, far from alone. Just last week teenage couple Kamile Vaicikonyte, 17, and her boyfriend Jamie Moore, 19, died in a single-vehicle crash on the A5 near Omagh, Co Tyrone on Tuesday.

Just weeks before that, another teenager was jailed for six years after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

Owain Hammett-George, 19, killed two friends and seriously injured a third when he crashed his car while driving at more than double the speed limit, just three months after passing his test.

In 2022, 29,742 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads, around 6,000 of those involved cars driven by a young car driver.

Drivers under 25 make up only 6% of drivers in the UK – but account for one in every five serious or fatal crashes, according to the RAC.

But the only difference for new drivers is they can have their licence revoked if they receive six penalty points within their first two years.

Ms Leadbeater said: “We must never forget that behind that statistic there are thousands of lives, right across the country, grieving or going through unimaginable pain. Lives changed forever and families torn apart by tragic and often avoidable collisions.”

She added: "Many of us will remember being new drivers. The inexperience, the lack of confidence or, sometimes, sadly often amongst younger men, the overconfidence.”

The idea is being introduced to Parliament by Labour MP Kim Leadbeater. Credit: PA

What would a 'graduated driving licence' be?

Ms Leadbeater's plan is not fully formulated and, if it were to progress through Parliament, would go through several stages of consultation and debate before becoming law.

Proposals already being suggested include a ban on carrying passengers under age 25 for the first six months, and a zero alcohol limit.

Restricted passenger numbers have also been floated as an idea, as well as lower speed limits and smaller engines for younger drivers.

Curfews could ban younger motorists from being on certain roads at certain times, and P plates to show someone has just passed could also be enforced for six months.

Ms Leadbeater said similar proposals have been successfully implemented in other countries such as New Zealand.

The graduated driving licence scheme there has reportedly led to a 23% reduction in car collision injuries for 15–19 year olds, and a 12% reduction for 20–24 year olds.

RAC road safety spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “The tragic statistics speak for themselves.

"Young drivers, especially men, are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured on our roads, so it’s high time a renewed focus was given to reducing casualties.

"Families up and down the country who have lost sons and daughters far too soon are looking for something to change, and graduated driving licences could well be the answer.

“Passing the practical driving test is the very first step in anyone’s driving career, but there remains so much more to learn to become a safe, proficient and confident driver.

"We call on MPs to back this Bill and set the wheels in motion in creating legislation that has the potential to save lives.”

The proposal, which is being introduced to MPs as a Ten Minute Rule Bill, has almost no chance of becoming law before a general election.

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