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Public back curbs on new drivers

A recently-passed learner driver


By Peter Woodman

Two-thirds of the public would like to see restrictions placed on recently qualified young drivers, according to an RAC Foundation survey. 

Even two in five young drivers would back a form of graduated licensing, the poll found.

Those surveyed were asked whether restrictions, possibly lasting 12 months after a driving test has been passed, should be placed on drivers aged 24 or under.

In the poll, of 2,101 adults, 66% showed support for limits on the number of passengers newly-qualified young drivers could carry and 61% backed a ban on them driving between midnight and 5am.

While 32% of young drivers oppose graduated licensing, 41% support some form of it.

Nearly one in eight road casualties caused by drivers aged 17 to 19

The poll also found:

  • 83% of those surveyed regard young drivers being involved in road accidents as a problem. This compares with 52% who regard older drivers in accidents as a problem;
  • 71% agreed that politicians should give more attention to road safety;
  • 64% of parents say they would ensure their children complied with a graduated licensing system.

Figures have shown that nearly one in eight of all road casualties is hurt or killed in collisions involving a car driver aged 17 to 19. That is despite this age group making up less than one in 60 of all licensed drivers.

Based on the experience of other countries where graduated licensing is in operation, a previous report for the RAC Foundation by the Transport Research Laboratory concluded that if such a system was introduced in Britain about 4,500 fewer people would be hurt in an average year.

This includes about 430 people who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured.

"Issue of young driver safety must be addressed"

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "Just a few days ago we saw that deaths on Britain's roads had fallen again.

"But the rate of decline over recent years has slowed and the issue of young driver safety is one of those matters that must be addressed."

He went on: "We now know there is a great deal of support for it amongst the British public. What we don't know is why ministers have not acted. The current Government has repeatedly promised a green paper on young driver safety and repeatedly failed to produce it.

"If there were any other area of public health policy where this level of harm was taking place there would be an outcry, yet as a nation we seem to accept what is happening to many of our young people when they get behind the wheel."

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