Raise driving age to 18, say MPs

19 July 2007

The minimum driving age should be raised to 18, says an influential group of MPs.

The Commons transport committee has also recommended that new drivers should be banned from carrying passengers at night and driving lessons should be spread over a year before drivers take a test.

There should also be a complete ban on alcohol for novice drivers.

Government figures show that one third of road deaths involve a car driven by a person aged between 17 and 25, even though this group accounts for only one in eight drivers.

Young male drivers are now the biggest killer of young women in this country.

These statistics have moved the transport committee to recommend:

• Increasing minimum driving age from 17 to 18;
• Introduce a minimum 12-month, learner-driver period and possibly test drivers on fast roads such as motorways;
• Introduce an alcohol ban on novice drivers;
• Novice drivers should be prohibited from carrying passengers aged between 10 and 20 between the hours of 11pm and 5am;
• These bans should last for 12 months after a novice driver passes their test;
• Encouraging the insurance industry to look again at the high insurance charges imposed on supervised learner drivers.

The Government said it would not rule out these proposals.

Reaction to proposals
A spokesperson for road safety charity Brake said: 'We are delighted that the Transport Committee's recommendations include many of the crucial elements of Graduated Driver Licensing schemes, which have saved many young lives in the countries where they have been introduced.

'We hope to see the government action that is needed to stop the carnage among young drivers soon.

However, Edmund King of the RAC Foundation said: 'It's essential that we end the carnage of novice drivers, but we are not convinced that this report advocates the best way of doing this.

'Government evidence shows that young drivers are more likely to crash due to the wrong attitude rather than the wrong skills. You cannot legislate to change attitudes but you can educate to change attitudes.'

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