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80 year old driving test needs to move with the times says the ABI

On the 80th anniversary of the driving test, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is urging the Government to start the long overdue process of modernising the way young people learn to drive to bring the UK in line with other major nations like the USA, Australia and New Zealand.

Since the driving test became compulsory on June 1st 1935 it has evolved to recognise the end of hand signals, the arrival of automatic gear boxes and to include a separate written theory test. The ABI says the time has now come to introduce a compulsory learning period and additional restrictions for new, young drivers in an effort to cut deaths and injuries on the road.

James Dalton, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance Policy, said:

"Car crashes remain the biggest cause of accidental death among young people, and more than 20 per cent of all road deaths can be traced back to young drivers. Evidence from overseas indicates these numbers could be drastically improved with the introduction of graduated driving licences.

"Passing your driving test is only the start of becoming a safe driver. We want to see a minimum one year learning period for under 25s and then an initial period of 6 months when there would be limits on the number of passengers which could be carried. Better driver training would reduce collisions, bring down motor premiums and, most importantly, save hundreds of lives."

The ABI’s Safe Young Drivers Campaign is calling for:

  • A one-year minimum learning period, starting from 16 and a half
  • Limits on the number of passengers allowed in a car with a new young driver
  • zero tolerance on alcohol
  • Limits on young people driving overnight, eg between 11.00pm and 4.00am

Experiences overseas show how effective these additional restrictions can be at reducing accidents involving young drivers. These can be introduced in ways which don’t restrict travel to work or education.

  • In Ontario, Canada, a study found a graduated driver licensing programme brought about an immediate 31% reduction in vehicle crashes for drivers aged 16-19, and a 42% reduction for those aged 20-24.
  • Two years after a graduated drivers’ licensing system was introduced in New Zealand there was an 8% reduction in the number of accidents involving under 19s.
  • In Australia It was found drivers aged 18-20 who learnt to drive with graduated licensing were 23% less likely to be involved in crashes in which someone was injured compared with a control group of full license holders aged 26-38.

Last updated 01/07/2016