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Night ban on new drivers is ‘counterintuitive’, warns IAM RoadSmart

Government plans to explore a possible night-time ban on new drivers could actually stop such drivers from gaining valuable behind-the-wheel experience. 

So says IAM RoadSmart as the Government says it’s looking into restrictions for new drivers to help tackle road safety.

Due for publication Friday, the Government’s road safety action plan will include a commitment for the Department for Transport to research further whether graduated driver licensing (GDL) — or a similar scheme — should be introduced in England as it looks to take action on figures suggesting one in five drivers are involved in a crash within a year of passing their test.

The commitment comes a year after Theresa May stated that she would ask the Department for Transport to look into GDL, which has already been introduced in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and parts of the US and said to have resulted in safety benefits.

In the announcement today (18 July 2019), the Department for Transport said it could put restrictions on new drivers, such as a minimum learning period, not driving at night, or not driving with passengers under a certain age in the car. This follows changes introduced to the driving test in 2017, including following directions from a sat nav.

However, IAM RoadSmart has expressed some reservations.

Director of policy and research Neil Greig said: “We strongly support many of the key components of a successful GDL scheme, in particular the 12-month minimum learning period which will ensure a much wider range of driving experience, but we still need to be convinced that night-time curfews will work and support a pilot scheme first.

“Gaining the right experience behind the wheel is the key to a lifetime of safe driving; restricting the opportunity to learn how to drive safely at night seems counterintuitive. Restrictions on the distraction caused by peer passengers makes more sense but some flexibility will be required.”

Greig also called for a lower drink-drive limit in the first years of driving as he highlighted that alcohol and drugs are among the main risk factors for young drivers alongside rural roads, darkness and distraction.

“Choosing effective restrictions to limit the known risk factors should be the key objective of Government in creating a new licensing system that is practical, affordable and works to reduce young driver road deaths and injuries,” he added.

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Young drivers sadly are over-represented in road traffic collisions so we welcome plans to improve their safety. Graduated driver licensing has the benefit of providing a more controlled environment when learning how to drive, however this must be balanced so it does not disadvantage young drivers who need to use vehicles for night work.

“We certainly would welcome a minimum learning period, or indeed a minimum number of learning hours required, while there may also be merits in restricting new drivers from carrying some passengers at certain times of the day and possibly even having a stricter drink-drive limit for new drivers. But we would also encourage the Government to look closely at providing incentives for the uptake of telematics based policies for new drivers, and consider how any new rules governing new drivers can be effectively enforced.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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