Learners should wear L-plates for a year, say insurers

Learners should practice for a year
Learner drivers should have supervision for a year before being allowed to take their test, insurers have said today.

That's just one measure of a major overhaul of the learning to drive system for young drivers being called for by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Other restrictions on young drivers during the first six months after passing their test include a ban on night-time driving, a tee total attitude and a restriction on the number of passengers they can carry.

The measures are in an attempt to reduce the high crash risk young drivers - 17 to 24 year olds - face.

But it's not all bad news for youngsters – the ABI would like to see the the age at which they can start learning to drive be lowered to 16 and a half.

The ABI said that in the UK only one in eight driving licence-holders was aged 25 or under, yet a third of those killed on the roads was aged under 25.

It added that an 18-year-old driver was more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48-year-old driver.

ABI director general, Otto Thoresen, said: "A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.

"We have all side-stepped this issue for too long. Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today's young drivers become tomorrow's safer motorists."

Motoring organisation, the AA, has welcomed the ABI's calls, but has concerns over policing the restrictions.

Edmund King, AA president and director of the AA Charitable Trust, told Autoblog: "Anything that will help bring down this death and injury toll is to be welcomed. However, in practical terms, the calls for a minimum learning period and gradated licensing restrictions are not, in our view, possible to enforce.

"Likewise, a ban on intensive courses needs to be considered very carefully in terms of the impact on wider youth issues such as high unemployment – should a 21-year-old graduate be forced to reject a job offer because they need to drive to their new office and they are not allowed to try to pass their test within a few months?

"The AA Charitable Trust is committed to making our roads safer for all, but to reduce the death and injury rate among young drivers, we need to start with education and it needs to start at a young age – many years before someone is old enough to even think about driving."
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