It has been announced that the Government is giving serious thought to raising the age at which teenage leaner drivers can take their practical driving test.
Under new plans, teenagers may have to wait a further 12 months as the Government ponders issuing 12 month probationary licences at the age of 18.
The proposal is all part of a plan to reduce the number of road traffic accidents involving young drivers.
As part of the new plan the Government is also considering the introduction of curfews for young drivers, which would be enforced between the hours of 22:00 and 05:00. The only exception to this rule would be if a person aged 30 or over was a passenger in the vehicle within these hours.
Ministers are expected to publish a Green Paper later this year (2013) after reviewing a report issued by the Transport Research Laboratory.
The report published by the Transport Research Laboratory recommends the introduction of a 12 month â€˜learner stageâ€™, commencing from the age of 17. During this period the report advises that drivers would have to accumulate a total of 100 hours daytime driving experience and 20 hours of night driving whilst under supervision.
Learners will then be allowed to take their test at the age of 18 and, should they pass, will be issued with a probationary licence and they will be required to display a green â€œPâ€ plate.
During the probationary period, drivers will be subject to a curfew and individuals under 30 will be prohibited from transporting passengers under the age of 30.
Further proposals being considered include a complete ban on mobile phone use (inclusive of hands-free equipment) and a lower alcohol limit.
Following the successful completion of the 12 month probationary period, drivers will automatically be upgraded to a full UK driving licence and unrestricted driving.
The report claims that the implementation of such a system could reduce annual casualty numbers by 4,471 and save Â£224 million.
In a statement from a Department for Transport (DfT) spokesperson, they said: â€œYoung drivers drive around 5% of all the miles driven in Britain but are involved in about 20% of the crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured. We are committed to improving safety for young drivers and reducing their insurance costs – that is why we are publishing a Green Paper later in the year setting out our proposals.â€
The spokesperson added: â€œThis will include a discussion about how people learn to drive. The research report has been produced by the Transport Research Laboratory under commission by the Department for Transport and it, amongst other things, has informed the Green Paper.â€
In a statement from the Director of the RAC Foundation, Stephen Glaister, he said: â€œWe welcome the proposals. Young people are four times more likely to die in a road accident than as a result of drink
or drugs. Yet, as a society we seem to turn a blind eye to the carnage. If this was any other area of public health there would be an outcry. This is about ensuring their long-term safety and mobility. Not curtailing it.â€
The President of the AA, Edmund King, was sceptical about the proposals saying that the plans were tackling the problems associated with young drivers in the â€˜wrong way.â€™
In an official statement he said: â€œYou should prepare young drivers to be safe when they get their licence rather than give them their licence and then restrict them.â€
He continued by calling for compulsory lessons on motorways, lessons in rural areas and lessons in bad weather.
At present, motorists across England, Wales and Scotland need to pass a theory test, then a practical test before an application for a full driving licence can be lodged. The minimum age for holding a full UK driving licence is 17, or 16 for certain individuals claiming mobility benefit.