Young drivers to be subjected to further testing

Car safety has lead to a one third reduction in car accidents since the mid-1990s, yet the accident rates for young, and inexperienced, motorists have not shown a similar drop.

Ruth Kelly, secretary for Transport, has announced new measures to increase the training which learner drivers have to undergo before qualifying for a full licence.

A structured programme, which could lead to a formal qualification, in traffic awareness and road safety will be introduced into schools and colleges (an enhanced "theory test"), as well as a strict syllabus for driving instructors to follow as they train the young people to pilot their vehicle. Additional modules and qualifications for van drivers and motorway drivers are also planned.

Driving instructors will also have a ‘star-rating’ to show how their previously trained drivers have progressed.

Ruth Kelly announced: "Every year more than 750,000 people pass their driving test. New drivers are keen to gain the freedom driving offers them to access further education, jobs or keep in touch with family and friends.

"But too many new drivers are involved in road accidents and are not properly prepared for driving alone. It is time for a new approach to learning to drive. We must make sure that novice drivers are safe drivers when they have passed their test. We must also create an expectation of lifelong learning, so that people continue advanced learning after their test."

RAC Foundation deputy director Sheila Rainger said: "Urgent action to cut the rising number of collisions involving young people on our roads is long overdue. Learning to drive can never be just about passing the test, but must be about becoming a safer driver from the first solo trip behind the wheel to the last."

It is calculated that current learner drivers take 52 hours of lessons and spend £1,500 learning to drive. The driving test pass rate for GB is 44 per cent. The average annual insurance premium for newly qualified drivers costs a male £1,200 and a female £800.

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