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Driving Test Changes Planned to Reduce Young Driver Deaths

A new driver holding his 'P' plates as new driving test changes are planned.

Young driver deaths on Britain’s roads continue to rise every year. With more young people passing their driving test at an earlier age every year, many driving experts have questioned whether the current driving exam is ‘comprehensive’ enough. Now, a series of driving test changes are planned.

What Driving Test Changes are Planned?

Among some of the driving test changes planned are driving in the dark and driving while distracted. Meanwhile, the new look driving exam could see candidates having to take control of a vehicle in the rain on smaller rural roads.

The new elements of the driving test are likely to be compulsory and will require candidates to demonstrate their competence and ability to handle a vehicle in all kinds of conditions before a driving licence is issued.

The changes were announced by the Roads Minister, Baroness Vere, as plans for a Graduated Licence Scheme were scrapped.

Driving Instructors to Play Their Part

As part of the sweeping driving test changes, driving instructors will be expected to complete a logbook that specifies when a student is competent in each area.

The new changes are being considered as it once again emerged that young drivers are disproportionately involved in road accidents.

Department for Transport (DfT) data shows that young drivers are involved in 16 percent of fatal or serious accidents despite making up just seven percent of all road users. Meanwhile, 21 percent of car accidents involve drivers between the ages of 21 and 29.

Sue Waterfield, a spokesperson for driving school, Young Driver, said: “Education is the key to ensuring road safety. Most drivers are in agreement that something needs to be done to tackle the shockingly high accident rate for our new drivers.”

Parents Not in Agreement

However, parents were less in favour of driving test changes, arguing that the new ‘restrictions’ could prove time limiting for teenagers in terms of getting to work or travelling home safely in an evening, which parents consider hugely important bearing in mind the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic.

A survey conducted by Young Driver found that more than a third of road users think that learner drivers should have a compulsory extended learning period. Meanwhile, the survey highlighted that one in four road users want learner drivers to face a more difficult driving test for higher safety standards.

One in five existing road users said a night time driving curfew for young people would be effective, while 21 percent of survey respondents called for a restriction on passenger numbers.

30 percent of survey participants said they wished to see a black box telematics system made compulsory in vehicles to encourage young people to slow down in a bid to save money.

Interestingly, 26 percent said they’d like to see some kind of safe and controlled driving initiative introduced for youngsters so they can get familiar with driving skills before turning 17. However, nearly a third of road users rejected this idea and instead called for the minimum driving age to be pushed back.

Learner Age Should be Increased  

Ms Waterfield said: “29 per cent of respondents to the survey felt the age of learning to drive should be increased. But teens are always going to want to pass their test as quickly as possible once they’re able, whatever that age is, so it makes sense to allow them to start safely building and practicing the necessary skills from a much earlier age.”

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