New young drivers could be banned from carrying younger passengers

April 25, 2023 by

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Road safety concerns see Government mull over graduated driving licences again

The Department for Transport is considering whether to ban drivers under the age of 25 from carrying passengers who are also under 25 until the driver has held their licence for six months.

Ministers have been considering a ‘graduated driving licence’ (GDL) scheme for some years now in a bid to bring down collision rates among younger drivers.

The Sunday Times reports that an advisory committee to the Department for Transport called Support for Victims of Road Crashes has proposed banning younger drivers from carrying younger passengers following pressure from the mother of a teenager who was killed along with an 18-year-old friend who crashed after having held her licence for just four months. Ministers are set to hear the proposals in full in mid May.

Data from the safety charity Brake shows that new drivers are up to four times more likely to have a collision if they are carrying passengers of a similar age.

Moves to introduce a GDL system that proposed nighttime driving curfews on new drivers were scrapped in 2019 after concerns that this could unfairly impact young drivers’ ability to work in the hospitality industry and other sectors with late-night shift patterns. While this problem would not be relevant under the latest proposal, other difficulties, such as how young drivers who gain their licence soon after becoming parents would transport their child, would have to be considered.

Young drivers in New Zealand, Ireland and some states in North America face various forms of GDL prohibitions, with Irish drivers having to display ‘N’ plates (for ‘novice’) and being subject to lower drink-drive limits until they have held their licence for two years. UK drivers, meanwhile, face having their licence automatically revoked if they accrue six penalty points within the first two years of passing their test, rather than the 12 points that trigger revocation among other drivers.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “ “Every death or serious injury on our roads is a tragedy, and we continue to work tirelessly to improve road safety for all users.

“Our broad approach to improving safety for new and novice drivers is through new technology and improving education, while reinforcing vital road safety messages through our Think! campaign.”