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DfT logic

06 Aug 2007 - JG

The Department for Transport is to publish a consultation report it commissioned on cutting the death toll amongst younger drivers in the autumn. The major proposal is increasing the age limit for gaining a full driving licence to by a year to eighteen. To do this they will impose a 12-month training period for new drivers, in effect preventing 17-year-olds from holding a full licence. According to DfT research a 12-month learning period would save up to 1,000 deaths and up to 7,000 serious injuries a year. All very well, but I don't really understand the logic entirely. Is this about raising the age of the driving limit, getting drivers to have more experience on the roads or keeping the number of cars on the roads down?

A year long learning period will actually be nothing of the sort. The cost of driving lessons alone will ensure that many people will not actually bother learning for that long. As such, drivers will not be going on the roads for the first time with more experience, just a year later than they might have been. So whether you are 17 or 35 you will have to apply for your license a year before you can take your test, you won't have to gain any further driving experience. Why not make the tests harder and ensure that drivers are taught the skills needed to handle a car? It all sounds a little bit like keeping car numbers down to me rather than an effective, well reasoned policy on cutting road deaths.

The proposals also suggest a zero alcohol limit for newly-qualified drivers of all ages for a year after they pass the test. Is that because newly qualified drivers are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol? I thought the current levels were deemed save because it did not impact on your ability to drive; how does your level of experience as a driver make any difference here? Either it is a save level deemed not to impair your senses or it is not. Strange thought processes at the Dft.

Organisations: UK DfT

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