Write your search here
  • FAQs
  • Claim Journey
  • Serious Injury
  • INK

New proposals for young drivers to stop peer-pressure car crashes

Ministers are hoping to stop newly qualified young drivers from giving lifts to friends, in efforts to stop peer-pressure car crashes.

I remember when I passed my test (on the second attempt….) back in 1998, I couldn’t wait to go pick up my friends to take them out for a spin in my pink Rover Metro! Are these proposals unfair to new drivers, and how would they work in practice?

Although nothing is yet confirmed, these proposals have understandably caused a very mixed response.  An official announcement is expected after a meeting in May.

By amending the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act, ministers could effectively impose a ban on new motorists from carrying passengers under the age of 25 in the first year or six months after passing their test.

According to road safety charity Brake, one in five drivers crash within a year of passing their test, and new drivers carrying passengers of a similar age are four times as likely to die in a crash than those driving alone.  It is believed that young drivers are more likely to “show off” and succumb to peer pressure and, whilst our young drivers only make up 6-7% of drivers in the UK, they account for one in every four serious or fatal crashes. Brake cited late-night driving, speeding, drink / drug driving, and using mobile phones as risk factors for accidents involving young people.  In 2021, 926 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving at least one young driver. These heart-breaking crashes have profound consequences, but do “hard cases make bad law”?

Is it fair? It’s a mixed response

Critics of the potential changes have stated that drivers who are under 25 account for less crashes than those over age 85, yet there are no discussions about similar rules for these licence holders.  Is this fair?

This law, if passed, needs to give careful consideration for specific cases and extenuating circumstances. Surely, experience is key.  I wonder whether the ministers have looked at alternatives, such as banning intensive courses that guarantee you can pass your test in one week?  Or how about looking at introducing a minimum number of driving experience hours before being able to book a test?

How would these rules affect young drivers living out in the country with limited access to public transport?  Would new rules lead to young drivers staying at home more where they won’t have accidents but could become lonely, isolated, and depressed?

Are passengers being punished when they are not necessarily the problem?  What about the children of those aged under 25?  Effectively any parents under the age of 25 with a new driving licence are going to be unable to carry their own child in the car, surely not?

How would this affect say, newlyweds?  The legal age for marriage in the UK is 18, does that mean that married couples under the age of 25 can’t travel around together?!

What about our disabled young drivers who might need to be accompanied whilst out and about, or disabled passengers relying upon lifts from peers?

So many questions remain unanswered, but the proposals already have support from groups such as the Support for Victims of Road Crashes, which acts as an advisor to the Department for Transport (DfT), who have backed the plans.

The plans are backed by the RACs road safety spokesman Simon Williams who said: “We’re very pleased to see that graduated driving licences are once again under consideration more than three and a half years after the Government last said it would look into their merits.”

“Young people, and especially young men, continue to be massively over-represented in road collision statistics, so introducing restrictions that are gradually reduced over the first few years of driving may be one of the measures needed to bring the dreadful numbers down.”

He added “It’s important any graduated driver licensing scheme doesn’t disadvantage young people who depend on their cars for work, so a balance needs to be struck between new drivers gaining the mobility they need while keeping them as safe as possible.”

“Introducing a minimum learning period, or number of learning hours, should be the very least of what is put in place. We believe there could also be merits in restricting the number of people young drivers are allowed to carry at certain times – most importantly at night – as well as putting in place a stricter or even a zero drink-drive limit.”

“Limiting young drivers’ rights to carry other young people as passengers for a period of time immediately after passing their test is a pragmatic move that should save lives. As new drivers gain more ‘real life’ experience, their risk of crashing reduces.”

Whilst I am absolutely certain that we all want to reduce the number of serious or fatal collisions, it is important that ministers consider all young drivers that may be affected and take a sensible approach.

Some countries including Ireland, France, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden have already brought in graduated licensing schemes for those who have only recently passed their test, including lower alcohol limits and restrictions on driving at night or with other passengers under a certain age.   Are the UK’s current proposals a bit of an overreach?  We would be interested to know what you think.