The debate about whether to introduce graduated driver licencing (GDL) continues, with MPs hearing from a number of academics during a recent evidence session.

GDL is a scheme which places restrictions on new drivers, such as not being able to drive at night – or not driving with passengers under a certain age in the car.

Its introduction has long been debated by the Government, who in 2019 committed to review and consult on GDL as part of its road safety action plan.

Earlier this year, the Transport Committee re-launched an inquiry into young driver safety.

Statistics show just 7% of the UK’s driving licence holders are aged 17-24 years – but this demographic are involved in 20% of fatal and serious collisions.

The inquiry is setting out to consider why young drivers are more at risk and how the Government plans to address casualty figures.

During the first evidence session, which can be watched here, the Committee heard from Dr Neale Kinnear (head of behavioural science at TRL), Elizabeth Box (head of research at the RAC Foundation) and Mary Williams OBE (chief executive of Brake).

All three panellists spoke in favour of introducing GDL, with a particular focus on the restriction of passengers.

Mary Williams, likening teen drivers to “free commercial taxi drivers”, said GDL gives young people the “power to be safe and to protect the lives of other young people”.

Mary Williams said: “Teen drivers are basically free commercial taxi drivers and this is the truth that contributes to the high casualty rates caused by young drivers who are also killing vulnerable road users outside vehicles.

“If we consider young drivers as taxi drivers for their mates, then we need to consider them… as occupational drivers.

“Then we start to think sensibly about a phased driver licensing system, in the same context that, for example, many of the fleet supporters of Brake do when they are training, evaluating and monitoring their novice and young commercial vehicle drivers.”

Dr Neale Kinnear told the committee that had GDL been brought in following a DfT review in 2013, 122 fatalities could have been prevented by 2018.

Dr Kinnear said: “This really is a public health thing. It’s not just about an individual driver that we’re looking to try and prevent doing something bad. It’s actually protecting everyone that’s using the roads.”


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