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Majority of public back young driver restrictions, finds RAC Foundation

That’s the finding of an Ipsos MORI survey for the RAC Foundation which also shows that amongst young drivers themselves, more support graduated licensing (41%) than oppose it (32%).

Graduated licensing would see limited restrictions on newly qualified young drivers for a period of typically 12 months, thus reducing their exposure to risk as they gain valuable experience on the road.

Today nearly one in eight of all road casualties are hurt or killed in collisions involving a car driver aged 17-19. This is despite this age group making up less than one in sixty of all licensed drivers.

When questioned about specific aspects of graduated licensing, 66% of British adults showed support for limits on the number of passengers newly qualified young drivers could carry and 61% showed support for driving restrictions between midnight and 5am.

Based on the experience of other countries where graduated licensing is in operation, a previous report for the RAC Foundation (by TRL, the Transport Research Laboratory) concluded that if such a system was introduced in Britain about 4,500 fewer people would be hurt in an average year. This includes about 430 people who would otherwise have been killed or seriously injured.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘The evidence from overseas shows there is a way of cutting the amount of death and injury on the road this age-group is involved in. It is called graduated driver licensing. What’s more we now know there is a great deal of support for it amongst the British public.

‘What we don’t know is why ministers have not acted. The current government has repeatedly promised a green paper on young driver safety and repeatedly failed to produce it.

‘If there were any other area of public health policy where this level of harm was taking place there would be an outcry, yet as a nation we seem to accept what is happening to many of our young people when they get behind the wheel.

‘We can debate where the balance lies between imposing restrictions in the interests of safety and maintaining mobility, but graduated licensing should be seen for what it is: a method of preserving long term freedom and health, not curtailing it.’

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.