Government U-turn on driving test changes

May 22, 2014 | By | In News

Proposed changes to the driving test, which would have made obtaining a licence much tougher, have been put on hold by the Government, according to a report by BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Road safety campaigners have for a number of years been calling for changes to the way licences are granted, to combat the high number of fatal collisions involving young (17-24) drivers – which account for a fifth of deaths on British roads.

However, the plans have now been shelved by the Department for Transport, which states that it does not want to restrict the lives and mobility of young people.

The proposed revisions, which were detailed in a Government Green Paper released last year, included the introduction of a probationary licence for new drivers, which would have prohibited driving between 10pm and 5am unless someone over the age of 30 was in the car.

A motorway-driving element to the driving test was also planned, along with a minimum number of hours spent under tuition, stricter penalties for mobile phone use and a lower legal drink-drive limit.

"At the radical end of some of the restrictions proposed, there would be a significant impact on young people's freedom."

Reaction to the Government’s U-turn has been mixed. Sophie Morgan, who suffered life-changing injuries in a car accident during her A-levels in 2003, said she was disappointed that learner drivers won’t be made to do a minimum number of hours behind the wheel.

"I don't know how many more young people have to die or sustain serious life-changing injuries like mine before the Government does something," she told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

Research from the Transport Research Laboratory suggests that around 4,470 lives could be saved each year with the changes tabled in the Green Paper.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists also expressed its disappointment with the delay.

Spokesperson Neil Greig said: "Government has copped out due to fears that a new system will add to the cost for young people and limit their job opportunities.

"Road deaths cost the economy almost £16 billion a year so improving safety for the highest risk group would actually have helped the economy.

"Young drivers need help. Graduated driver licensing could deliver that."

It’s not just younger drivers themselves that have expressed relief that the plans have been shelved; the AA too expressed some relief. In a statement the motoring group said: "We are generally in favour of education over restriction.

"At the radical end of some of the restrictions proposed, there would be a significant impact on young people's freedom."

What changes would you like to see to the way new drivers are awarded licences? Do you think any changes would have a significant effect on the number of young drivers dying on our roads? Have your say below.

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