Ministers are considering plans to stop newly qualified young drivers from giving lifts to friends in efforts to stop peer-pressure car crashes.
According to reports from the driving association RAC, drivers under the age of 25 could be prevented from having any young passengers in the vehicle as part of a ‘graduated driving licence’.
This is where young drivers would be legally banned from offering lifts in the first 12 months after they gain their licence. One of the contributing factors in accidents involving young drivers is from crashes influenced by peer pressure.
These drivers make up only 6% of drivers in the UK – but account for one in every five serious or fatal crashes.
Under current legislation, there are no extra rules in place for recently qualified drivers like this. However, drivers have to pass a probationary period of two years where they are only allowed six points on their licence before having it revoked.
Although nothing is currently confirmed, critics of the potential changes have stated that drivers who are under 25 account for less crashes than those over 85 – but there are no discussions about similar rules for these licence holders.
However, groups such as the Support for Victims of Road Crashes, which acts as an advisor to the Department for Transport (DfT), has backed the plans.
Sharron Huddleston, 52, from Cumbria, whose daughter Caitlin, 18, was killed in a car crash after taking a lift with a friend is a part of the group.
She said: "It has left a huge, gaping hole in our family. Every Christmas, every birthday, it is just devastating.
"There is nothing I can do to bring Caitlin back but I am determined, in her memory, to ensure that no other family goes through the pain and agony that we go through every day."
Following the news, the DfT stated: "Every death or serious injury on our roads is a tragedy and we continue to work tirelessly to improve road safety for all users.
“Our approach to improving safety for new and novice drivers is through new technology and improving education, while reinforcing vital road safety messages through our Think! campaign.”
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “We’re very pleased to see that graduated driving licences are once again under consideration more than three and a half years after the Government last said it would look into their merits.
“Young people, and especially young men, continue to be massively over-represented in road collision statistics, so introducing restrictions that are gradually reduced over the first few years of driving may be one of the measures needed to bring the dreadful numbers down.
“It’s important any graduated driver licensing scheme doesn’t disadvantage young people who depend on their cars for work, so a balance needs to be struck between new drivers gaining the mobility they need while keeping them as safe as possible.
“Introducing a minimum learning period, or number of learning hours, should be the very least of what is put in place. We believe there could also be merits in restricting the number of people young drivers are allowed to carry at certain times – most importantly at night – as well as putting in place a stricter or even a zero drink-drive limit.
“Mandating ‘new driver’ plates could also help make others aware of who they’re sharing the road with and help make police enforcement easier. Technology could also be used beneficially as telematics-based insurance can monitor drivers’ behaviour behind the wheel.
“We look forward to hearing more about any future proposals, ideally alongside the Government’s broader, and much anticipated updated road safety strategy.”