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Driving age to move to 18?

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Talk of increasing the driving age is not a new suggestion, but a new report commissioned by the government recommends that drivers should wait until they are 18 to take their test and a 12 month learner period will then follow where drivers will have to display a green ‘P’ plate.

It is no surprise that this is again being proposed, as the statistics show that 20% of deaths or serious injuries in car accidents are where the driver is aged between 17-24 and young male drivers are shockingly, seven times more likely to be in an accident than any other age group.

The report suggests probationary licenses should only be issued when a person turns 18, instead of the current rules, which allow people to apply for a provisional driving license 3 months before their seventeenth birthday.

The learner stage would comprise of 100 hours of daytime driving practice with supervision and 20 hours of night time driving. Newly qualified drivers would also be banned from the roads between 10 pm and 5 am unless someone over the age of 30 accompanies them.

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation believes the proposed changes in the law should be encouraged and reasoned: "Circumstances conspire against young drivers. Their youth and lack of experience create a deadly mix which means one in five will have an accident within the first six months of passing their test."

However, others believe that an alternative approach should be adopted where drivers are taught to drive safely before given a driving license. President of the AA, Edmund King argues that "You should prepare young drivers to be safe when they get their licence rather than give them their licence and then restrict them." In addition, he also addressed the importance of lessons on motorway driving and driving in rural areas which is not currently compulsory for learner drivers.

A Green Paper is to be drafter shortly and it will be interesting to see if there is to be any change to the law as a result of these proposals. 

By Melanie Chisnall, personal injury department