Is a graduated driving licence a good idea?
Whatever the pitfalls of the New Driver Act, it has come from a place of genuine concern for the safety of our young people when they are behind the wheel. And convenient target or not, something has to be done to tackle the issue.
All the cons of a passenger ban aside, graduated driving licences may be a good compromise.
The USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand all use Graduated Driving Licence schemes in some form.
These are intended to provide newly qualified drivers with driving experience and skills gradually in low-risk environments, usually moving from a learner’s permit, to a GDL, to a full licence.
GDLs do generally restrict night-time, motorway and unsupervised driving during the initial stages, but these restrictions are lifted as the learner is tested and gains more experience and confidence.
In other words, there’s a transition period between being a learner and having a full licence. This could be a good way for young drivers to get that crucial road experience which makes us better drivers, in a less risky environment.
A GDL scheme simply changes the way in which a full licence is achieved.
But it’s not the only option.
Some driving schools are convinced that young people should be having lessons at a younger age.
While you can’t take a car onto public roads until you are 17, some driving schools do offer private lessons to younger age groups on private land. These driving schools claim those students who have pre-17 lessons are statistically less likely to crash in the first 6 months after passing their test, than the national average.
In theory, if you already know how to drive when heading out with an instructor, then formal lessons can focus more on road safety and interacting with traffic. Perhaps allowing people to familiarise themselves with driving at an earlier age could be a good alternative to improve road safety.
Either way, both these options could address concerns that young people don’t necessarily get enough experience on the road before passing their tests.
We think it’s food for thought at the very least.