According to a recent report from motoring charity the RAC foundation, almost one in eight (11.9%) of all road casualties take place in an incident that involves a driver aged between 17 and 19.
This worrying statistic, taken from a report of all police-reported traffic collisions between 2008 and 2012, comes despite the fact that this age group makes up only 1.5% of all licensed drivers – but what can be done to resolve this issue?
The UK government has stated that it would like to see the number of collisions involving young drivers fall, but a question mark hangs over the measures that could be put in place to achieve a reduction.
One solution would be to increase the minimum driving age in order to do away with the problem altogether, but this would come with its own downsides.
Huge numbers of 17-19 year olds rely heavily on their own vehicles to drive to work – and for some, driving is their work.
An alternative would be to restrict driving hours for younger drivers, as this is when a significant proportion of the collisions take place. However, this could be difficult to enforce, unless using black box technology that can recognise the time of day at which the car is being driven.
Possibly the most sensible option would be for the UK to implement GDL – graduated driver licensing – which is already used in Australia, South Africa, parts of the US and other countries around the world.
Such a system would involve three stages before young drivers pass their test: a learners’ permit, followed by a restricted/provisional/probationary licence and ending with a full driver’s licence.
Drivers normally have to complete a certain number of supervised driving hours in stage 1 before taking a test to reach stage 2, which will often have restrictions on the type of road on which the driver can drive, the number of passengers that they can carry and the time of day at which they drive.
Research used by the RAC has shown that many young drivers who have only recently passed their test are not particularly confident behind the wheel – could it be that a GDL system here in the UK could improve their confidence and reduce the number of collisions?