Driving laws are everchanging, in line with the world that we live in today. Because of this, new drivers can often be affected by new legislation that does not apply to more experienced drivers.
This may seem slightly unfair, and some may argue that it is, but unfortunately, if you want to drive, you need to be aware of and follow any new laws that are put in place. It was recently announced that the Department Of Transport is considering the introduction of a graduated licence.
Previously, government discussions around the subject have led to a rejection of the idea.
However, the idea seems to be gaining traction and could affect new drivers in the near future. The graduated licence scheme would place a restriction on new drivers, meaning that their freedom on the roads would not be the same as more experienced drivers.
The scheme is designed to reduce the number of road deaths.
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What do we know so far?
Although there haven’t been any changes in legislation yet, the government are looking at introducing the scheme. This would mean different rules for newly qualified drivers, than those with more experience on the roads.
It is likely that the scheme would target younger drivers, but this is yet to be confirmed.
Restrictions could mean only being allowed to drive during certain hours, or not being permitted to carry certain passengers in the vehicle. This could include children, or possibly anyone under the age of 18.
This kind of scheme has been implemented in other countries around the world, and these are examples of some restrictions that have been put in place.
We also know that the scheme may not be allowed to be as restrictive as this. Before a scheme of this type is allowed to be put in place, it must be thoroughly discussed in parliament.
In the past, when similar schemes have been discussed, they’ve ended in rejection due to the unfair impact they pose on younger drivers.
Restrictions could mean that young people are unable to access certain educational, or paid work opportunities. If the scheme does pass however, there could be other restrictions such as the introduction of a minimum learning period before being allowed to take a driving test.
Is a change in lesson style likely?
The government have discussed the need for a more varied experience to be included in driving lessons.
For example, it was recently announced that it would be beneficial for learner drivers to gain a minimum of two hours experience on country roads.
It was also proposed that learners should be required to gain experience of driving independently, and in the dark before being allowed to take a test.
Is there a need for change?
As the country develops and awareness increases, laws do tend to change. Most legislation changes are due to statistical analysis, identifying areas in need of change.
In this instance, statistics show that younger drivers (aged 17-24), and those that have been driving for a year or less are most at risk. This means that they make up a substantial majority of road traffic accidents.
Because of this, it is understandable that the government is seeking solutions to the problem.
There are currently no real restrictions in place for new drivers, meaning they have the same freedom on the roads as those that are more experienced.
The only current restriction for those new to driving is the possibility of disqualification if they gain six points on their licence within two years of passing their test.
How to prepare for any changes as a new driver
If you are concerned about the restrictions that may be put on young drivers as a result of a legislative change, there are certain things you can do to prepare. For example, you may wish to take additional driving exams after your driving test to highlight your skills and possible advanced ability.
Although it is not currently known whether this will have an impact on whether you will be hit with restrictions, taking additional exams such as a Pass Plus may help.
A Pass Plus exam will help you to gain valuable advanced driving experience regardless of any changes in the law. In addition to this, asking your driving instructor about the possibility of learning to drive at night or focusing on country road driving may be beneficial.
What does ‘graduated’ really mean?
Judging by similar schemes in other countries, the term usually means a full unrestricted licence will be granted after a driver passes different levels of a set process. Essentially, drivers are likely to have to pass a probationary period before being granted an unrestricted licence.
This means drivers may need to abide by certain rules that could include a lower alcohol limit for those that are driving, driving at lower speeds, or only being able to drive cars with smaller engines.
When could these changes happen?
Although it is not currently set in stone whether these changes will happen at all, it is likely that they will. It was announced in April 2018 that a trial scheme would be launched in Northern Ireland somewhere during 2019/2020.
Therefore, if the trial yields the results that the government expect, it is likely that plans will be drawn up for the implementation of a nationwide scheme shortly after. The changes (if made) are unlikely to affect new drivers straight away and will need to be debated before being officially announced.