The idea of graduated driving licenses for learners – a probationary licence with restrictions – has been floated before but shelved after concerns were raised about the impact it would have on new drivers’ working lives. But the government has now promised to reassess the idea.
Not being able to drive after dark; not being able to drive with passengers under a certain age in the car; having to take another test at the end of a two-year probation period. These are all restrictions that have been put forward by advocates of graduated driver licensing (GDL) in the past.
And now it’s back as the government believes GDL could help reduce the number of new drivers crashing in their first year of motoring, which currently stands at a worrying one in five.
The main reason for past outcries over GDL has been concerns about the impact on young people and their ability to get to and from work or college.
For instance, if your work shift finishes after, say, 10pm and your licence forbids you from driving at night, how do you get back home? How are you expected to keep your job for that matter?
Despite such concerns, the Department of Transport has signalled that GDL is now back on the agenda, and it aims to build an evidence base for how they might work in practise.
We want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it, can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads.”
– Michael Ellis, Road Safety Minister.
The idea of GDL has been broadly welcomed by the instructor community – but not as the complete solution. For instance, the Driving Instructors Association (DIA) states that while GDL is a good idea in theory, it shouldn’t be introduced in isolation. Instead, the DIA believes that GDL must be part of a more ‘holistic approach’.
This would still see GDL introduced but combined with the introduction of new compulsory elements in the learning process, “such as motorway driving, rural roads, night time driving and driving with distraction before the test, rather than seeking to merely restrict exposure post test.”
However GDL is finally incorporated, it’s clear that the possibility of its introduction is continuing to grow, although it will take time and consultations before any scheme is implemented. Perhaps the real question here is no longer if graduated driving licenses will be introduced – but how, when and in what form.