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Curfew for young drivers put on hold

Car headlights shining through fogGovernment proposals to cut road accidents by imposing a night-time ban on young drivers have been delayed once again.

Plans to make Britain's roads safer by putting limits on accident-prone young drivers have been halted by ministers.

The Department for Transport was due to publish a Green Paper setting out stricter rules for newly qualified motorists before Parliament's Christmas break began on 19 December.

But the proposed legislation has now been delayed and will not be put before MPs until the New Year at the earliest.

Row over night-time ban for young drivers

The delay is thought to be due to Cabinet disagreements over a proposal to ban some young drivers from the roads at night.

Statistics show that not only are young motorists more prone to be involved in road accidents, but also that these accidents are more likely to happen after dark.

This is why road-safety campaigners have called on the government to introduce night-time curfews for drivers under a certain age, or within a certain period of passing their tests.

There is support for this measure within government as well as in the car insurance industry.

But some ministers are thought to be concerned about the effect such legislation could have on youth employment.

Employment concerns over curfew

A ban on driving after 11pm, for example, could affect young people who work late or night shifts.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport (DfT) said: "It is vital the government strikes the right balance, so that young drivers remain safe on our roads but at the same time their freedom is not restricted.

"We will issue a paper when we have considered this further."

A curfew is one of a raft of measures currently being considered by the DfT.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) last year called for learner drivers to face a minimum qualification period of 12 months, and also for intensive learner courses to be banned.

Call for more driving lessons

Woman having a driving lesson The ABI said it wanted newly qualified drivers to have more supervised practice than is currently the case in many instances.

The organisation also said it supported a system of graduated driver licensing.

This would mean restrictions on aspects such as passenger numbers and night driving in the first few months after passing the test.

Edmund King, president of motoring organisation the AA, said the Green Paper had been originally due in the first half of 2013.

Curfew vs. more driver training

"Reading between the lines there appears to be divisions between the Curfew Crew - those who think the answer is driving teenagers off the roads by raising the driving age and then restricting drivers with curfews - and the Training Tendency.

"This is those who want to improve the training of drivers before they take to the road rather than restricting them afterwards."

King added that members of the coalition could be worried about the political implications of imposing restrictions on young drivers.

"Whether we like it or not, radical changes to the driving age and restrictions are a political issue.

Train rather than restrict

"Today's 17 year olds don't want to be restricted and if they are they will probably vote with their wheels when they are over 18 at the next election.

"There are also genuine concerns that increasing the driving age may push some young people out of the job market either as drivers or because they can't get to work."

But King said that these were issues that could be addressed during the legislative process.

"The Green Paper will be a consultation paper rather than government policy, so why not publish the paper and let the people decide."

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Chris Torney

Chris Torney

Chris is the former personal finance editor at the Daily Express. He's been a journalist for more than 10 years and contributes to a wide range of finance and business titles.Read more from Chris



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