How long should new drivers spend behind the wheel before taking their driving test? The Association of British Insurers thinks it should be a minimum of 12 months.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) also wants to see a ban on learners taking intensive driving courses as the sole means of learning to drive. And it’s recommending lowering the age at which young people can start learning to drive to 16 and a half.
‘Graduated’ driver licensing is another suggestion, which is used in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. This would mean limiting the number of passengers that a young driver can carry in the first six months after passing their driving test. The reason? There’s a significantly increased crash risk when young passengers are carried in the car.
The ABI’s radical proposals don’t stop there. It also wants restrictions on night-time driving for the first six months after passing the test. New drivers would be banned from driving between 11pm at night and 4am, unless they are driving to work or education.
Also in the first six months, the ABI would like to see an effective complete alcohol ban, with a near-zero limit (which would still allow you to use mouthwash, for example).
Cheaper car insurance?
The ABI thinks these measures will reduce the high crash risk that young drivers face. In the UK, it says that one in three deaths on our roads is a person aged under 25. An 18 year old driver is apparently more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash than a driver 30 years older. It’s this that’s contributing to the car insurance costs that are spiralling out of control for young drivers
Any measures that increase safety are obviously something we should welcome, and I’ve always thought that there’s no substitute for experience in improving driver skill and awareness.
Whether the 12-month learning period will do this is another question. Surely it would be better to make learners spend a minimum number of hours behind the wheel with an official instructor, as happens in many other countries?
Of course, something really has to be done to lower insurance premiums for younger drivers. As it is, we risk losing a whole generation of younger drivers who are currently priced out by sky-high insurance costs. If these measures really can cut insurance bills, then it’s definitely something I’d welcome.
So do you think it makes sense to insist that new drivers spend 12 months learning to drive? And what about the idea of lowering the age drivers can learn to 16 and a half?