Post Magazine is reporting that a joint letter ¹, aimed at stressing the need for progress with regard to improving young driver safety, has been signed by the Association of British Insurers, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, road safety charity Brake, the RAC Foundation and a number of academics. This comes 10 months after the Government announced their green paper discussing young driver safety reforms would be postponed indefinitely.
In early 2013 the Government announced that changes were to be proposed for newly-qualified and young drivers in the UK, in a bid to cut serious accidents on the roads and reduce insurance premiums for young people.
A green paper was originally promised for Spring 2013, and was expected to analyse options around ²:
- A minimum learning period for new drivers
- Improving driving lessons to include experience of driving in adverse conditions
- Changing the probationary period from 2 to 3 years
- Incentivising additional training after the initial driving test
- A graduated driving licence scheme
- Restrictions for young drivers such as a night-time curfew
Huw Evans, deputy director of the ABI, said:
“The prospect seems to be diminishing because a degree of political courage is needed.”
While the final version of the letter is still in development, Post Magazine understands that it will refer specifically to the positive results achieved by graduated driver licensing programmes in other countries.
Post Magazine reports that the ABI has been meeting regularly with MPs to increase support for its proposals, despite the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) suggesting that Government the is still opposed to a graduated driver licencing scheme.
Pacts executive director David Davies told Post:
“[This government] thinks that telematics is a potential route for improving young driver safety. That is its main approach, with some possible additions to the driving test like including some elements of motorway driving. It has decided that it plays better with some parts of the electorate because [graduated driver licencing] looks too much like regulation.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport agreed that its current focus is on technological solutions. She said:
“Too many young people die on our roads. There is a difficult balance to strike between the safety and the freedom of our young drivers, and we are currently undertaking research into how telematics can help make our roads safer.”
Charlotte Halkett of insurethebox commented:
“We see that our black box car insurance cuts the crash risk of young drivers by around 30%, so the links between telematics and safer driving are unequivocal”.
Post Magazine spoke to Bradford East Liberal Democrat David Ward MP, who has been campaigning for cheaper car insurance for young drivers. Ward revealed that he would be asking questions in parliament to find out whether discussions on the potential benefits of a graduated driving licence programme had stalled. He said:
“[Young driver safety reforms] seem to have gone quiet. We want to pick this up, see why it has fallen off the radar and get it back in the minds of the government.”
Ward explained that some individuals within parliament oppose the idea of graduated driving licences because of ethical concerns around restricting when young people are allowed to drive or the number of passengers they can carry.
“But the onus is on those who are blocking this to come up an alternative,” Ward added.