Drivers should spend a year as learners, insurers say

Association of British Insurers call for an overhaul of licensing to reduce ‘tragic waste’ of young lives on the roads

Novice drivers should be subject to restrictions on night-time driving and a lowered drink driving limit, according to the Association of British Insurers.

The ABI also recommended that learners spend at least a year with their L-plates before being allowed to take a driving test, although young people could start learning six months earlier than the current age limit of 17.

The minimum 12-month learning period would enable young drivers to gain more supervised practice, the ABI said on Thursday.

The association also called for graduated driver licensing for the first six months after passing a driving test. This would include restrictions on the number of young passengers that can be carried by a newly-qualified driver. Young drivers would also be banned from driving between 11pm and 4am, and no blood alcohol would be allowed.

According to the ABI, only one in eight driving licence-holders in the UK was aged 25 or under, yet they accounted for a third of those killed on the roads.

The association added that an 18-year-old driver was more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as their 48-year-old counterpart.

In addition, 27% of personal injury motor insurance claims over £500,000 result from a crash involving a driver aged 17-24.

The director general of the ABI, Otto Thoresen, said on Thursday: “Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads, especially among the 17-24 age group.

“A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.

“We have all sidestepped this issue for too long. Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today’s young drivers become tomorrow’s safer motorists.”

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