Currently in the UK, you cannot start to drive a car until you have a valid provisional driving licence. If you qualify as a higher rate of disability (DLA), you can start to learn to drive on your 16th Birthday – otherwise teenagers will have to wait until they are 17.
However, it is being debated by Government whether the driving age should be changed. This has been on the cards for some time, and still we are not entirely sure whether the law will change or not. Under new plans, teenagers could have to wait a year longer before they are allowed to take their driving test, when they are 18.
The Government has suggested that, as a way of cutting road accidents, the change in law would be beneficial. Teenagers should be issued a 12 month probationary licence at the age of 18 (they would be forced to wait until they are 19 before they qualify for a full licence), as well as being made to face a curfew between 10pm and 5am. This is in place unless a passenger is also in the car of aged 30 or over.
Not only this, but rumours are also suggesting that young people would have to log 120 hours of supervised practice, which would include 20 hours of night-time practice.
Plans could also include restrictions on all new drivers on night-time driving – including older drivers. A lower drink-drive limit would be put into place, and a ban on using a hands-free mobile phone for 12 months might also be on the cards.
Of course, we are not sure whether this will happen yet. The Bill would have to pass through both houses of parliament, and it would be a difficult one to pass and would likely receive a lot of objection. But when looking at the statistics, it is clear that this is an issue that does require some attention. Data shows that more than a fifth of deaths on British roads in the past 4 years involved young drivers, and a new system of older new drivers could cut casualty numbers by over 4,400 a year and save the country £224m.
A Department for Transport spokesman commented on the proposition: “Young 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 setting out our proposals. This will include a discussion about how people learn to drive.”
What do you think about the current age of drivers in the UK? It certainly is a hot topic, and one that is likely to receive supporters as well as fierce objection from the other side. We’ll keep you posted on any updates to this issue.