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Mon, 02/12/2018 - 14:27 -- sdukbewiser

New drivers could face night curfews and lower speed limits under new plans considered by government

Mon, 12/02/2018
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New drivers could face night curfews and lower speed limits under new plans considered by government

New drivers have less experience on the roads, making them a potentially higher risk when it comes to careless driving. Introducing lower speed limits and enforcing a night curfew could reduce this risk. But is it fair to discriminate against new drivers in this way?

Rob Hull, The Daily Mail, reports:

New drivers who have recently passed their driving test could be hit with new restrictions that might see them banned from the roads at certain times under new plans being discussed by the government.

Prime minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that she will ask the Department for Transport to investigate the proposal of a 'graduated licences' scheme that will help reduce the number of accidents involving newly qualified motorists.

Similar limits used in Australian, Ireland, New Zealand and the US have seen new drivers under the age of 25 banned from driving at night and restricted to lower maximum speeds, while other moves could be a restriction on the engine size and power output of cars they're permitted to drive.

Mrs May was quizzed on the plans during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, 

Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington, asked if a graduated licence system would be introduced in the UK to kerb the number of accidents involving new drivers.

Government statistics suggest a quarter of newly qualified motorists are involved in an accident in the first two years they are allowed to drive unaccompanied on the road and 400 young drivers are killed or seriously injured in the UK each year.

The prime minister responded by saying she would 'certainly look at the request' and would 'ask the Department for Transport to look at this as an issue'.

Under current rules there are very few restrictions on new drivers.

The only unique treatment they receive is stricter penalties if caught flouting the law, with the threat of losing their licence if they tot-up six points in the first 24 months of passing the test.

By contrast, drivers in Northern Ireland have to display amber 'R' plates - short for restricted - for the first year, which doesn't allow them to travel any faster than 45mph.

Similarly in Ireland, novice 'N' plates have to be used for two years to highlight that a new driver is at the wheel. They are also subject to lower drink drive limits than motorists with more than 24 months of driving experience.

Elsewhere, new drivers in Australia, New Zealand and some parts of the US are not allowed to drive at night when not accompanied by an experienced motorists, and also face restrictions on the number of passengers they can carry.

Any plans to restrict driving in darkness in the UK create difficulties for many people, especially those using their cars to get to and from work in winter when the daylight hours are shorter.

Other limitations could also focus on the engine size and power output of a new driver's vehicle.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said the motoring group 'welcomed' the plans to look into graduated driving licences, having requested a review in previous years.

'The RAC has been calling for a reform of driving education for young people and the introduction of graduated driving licences with a minimum supervised learning period and restrictions on the number of passengers permitted in the car so this is a very positive step towards preventing the loss of young lives on our roads,' he said.

Studies by the organisation showed that more than a third (35 per cent) of young drivers felt the standard driving test fails to cover all the skills required to cope with the demands of driving every day.

It also said that more restrictions could have a positive impact for new drivers with costs for insurance likely to fall if younger motorists were kept on a tighter leash.

Williams continued: 'Evidence from other countries where some form of graduated driver licensing is used shows that it has been successful in reducing the number of collisions involving young drivers, but in order for it to be as effective as possible it has to be part of an overall package of measures including more extensive driver education.

'We welcome a common sense approach to driver education such as the recent decision to allow probationary licence holders to take lessons on motorway driving.

'Graduated licensing may also have a positive impact on insurance premiums and should bring about a welcome reduction in the costs for new drivers who are finding the cost of learning to drive, buying and insuring a vehicle prohibitive.'

Simon McCulloch, director at price comparison site Comparethemarket, said new measures 'should result in safer roads for all' as well as reduce premiums.

'While it may initially feel like a harsh restriction for new drivers, it’s worth considering that these limitations on their licenses should reduce their insurance risk profiles, which could ultimately see the cost of their insurance reduce significantly,' he said.

'Young drivers already face much higher costs just to get on the road, with our research indicating that 17-24 year old’s pay, on average, a staggering £2,379 a year to run a car.

'The largest contributor to that figure is insurance, which costs on average £1,354. Reducing the risk, and therefore the premiums, could go a long way to making driving more affordable for many young people.'

Arguably if a driver has passed their driving test, they are just as qualified to be on the roads as any other driver. They will need to build up their experience of different driving conditions, with night time driving being one of them. Therefore, is it fair to discuss potential limits for them? 

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