New drivers could face mandatory black boxes and zero drink-drive limit under licence changes

Thursday, 1st October 2020, 11:42 am
Updated Thursday, 1st October 2020, 11:43 am

Young drivers could be forced to use telematic tracking devices and limit the number of passengers they carry under proposals being considered by MPs.

Drivers aged 17 to 25 are being asked for their views on a number of possible restrictions on new drivers aimed at reducing the number of young motorists involved in crashes.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Among other suggestions put forward by parliament’s Transport Committee are making lessons on certain types of road mandatory and the idea of a graduated licence which could involve a zero-alcohol limit, a minimum number of lessons and restrictions on nighttime driving.

The Committee has launched an online survey as part of its inquiry into the high rates of collisions and casualties involving young and novice drivers. Twenty per cent of all passenger injuries and fatalities on the roads involve young people (17-25), even though they account for only seven per cent of licence holders.

The survey is open until October 12, after which the committee will consider the responses before making recommendations to parliament on what the Government can do to address the issue.

Among its suggestions are making the use of a telematics black box mandatory for up to a year after a driver passes their test. These systems monitor a driver’s behaviour, such as speed and braking, and are increasingly common in insurance policies for young people.

It also suggests lessons on rural roads and motorways could become mandatory and asks whether young drivers would support an Australian-style graduated licence.

This could see a minimum learning period of six to 12 months, a drink-drive limit of zero, a restriction on the number of passengers at night, and stopping young drivers from taking to the road at night, either from 9pm or midnight to 5am.

A graduated licence could limit the number of passengers young drivers can carry (Photo: Shutterstock)

Road safety charity Brake has previously supported the idea of a graduated licence but Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School has warned that it could have a negative effect on young learners.

He said: “Restricting young drivers is not the answer to improving road safety. Of course, there are concerns about the safety record of young drivers, but we do not believe the introduction of a graduated driving licence for new drivers is the best option for the UK.

“Restricting driving licences may deter youngsters from learning to drive. This would impact social mobility, employment prospects and hamper local economies. With the UK in another recession we need to ensure youngsters have every opportunity to find and keep jobs in this new world, rather than thinking about how we can clip their wings.”

He also argued that the UK’s road safety record was already far better than in some countries which used a graduated licence system, with road fatality rates four times lower than Australia or New Zealand.

“An overarching reason for dangerous driving on the roads lies with driver attitudes, and this problem can’t be tackled by simply restricting independence," he added.

“Rather than graduated driving licences, a preferable solution to encourage safer motoring is the Co-Op’s T plate, identifying drivers with a telematic device installed. This will encourage more patience and tolerance from other drivers, as well as serving as a reminder to others about the rules of the road.”