Is graduated licensing for drivers the way to safer roads?

Posted: 04/08/2014


Following recent calls for the introduction of graduated licensing for drivers (GDL) for those under 25, Penningtons Manches’ personal injury team considers the statistics behind the proposal. The GDL would introduce restrictions on the number of passengers a young driver could carry, the hours at which young drivers were allowed to drive, lower alcohol limits and vehicle power limits.

Recent RAC Foundation publications reveal that 22% of fatalities on Britain’s roads occurred in collisions involving a driver aged between 17 and 24 years old. Of these fatal collisions, 65% of the fatalities were passengers or road users other than the driver.  Within this group, drivers between 17 to 19 years old accounted for 12% of all road casualties.

International research suggests that the GDL could result in a reduction of between 9% and 60% of fatalities on Britain’s roads for this age group and overall reductions in casualties of between 5% and 32%. If the GDL was introduced in the UK, the RAC Foundation considers that this may translate into a decrease of almost 4,500 casualties per year from collisions involving 17 to 19 year old car drivers and a reduction of more than 400 killed or seriously injured.

William Broadbent, personal injury lawyer, commented: “There is a clearly disproportionate number of young drivers being involved in serious road accidents. Although drivers under 25 represent less than 8% of licence holders, they make up a quarter of drivers killed or seriously injured on the UK's roads. These statistics must improve.

“The figures from the RAC Foundation and international case studies suggest that the GDL may lead to significant improvements in the safety of this group of road users. As such, there are strong arguments for the implementation of this.

“But we should not assume that all young drivers are bad drivers.  While they may lack the experience that only comes with age, the fact that they have passed a test to certify them to drive on Britain’s roads should mean that they are competent to do so. If they are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents, is this a sign that driving instruction and tests are not preparing them adequately for the roads?

“Accidents will inevitably happen on today’s busy roads but it is important that steps are taken to minimise this risk and protect the most vulnerable groups. It is vital that young drivers are instilled with as sound advice as possible and maybe the GDL is a good way to ease young drivers in. There may, however, be broader questions to be asked about the standards required to pass the driving test in the first place.”

 


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