COMMONS

New inquiry to explore road safety for young and novice drivers

25 July 2019

Young drivers aged 17-24 account for seven percent of the UK’s driving licence holders but are involved in 20% of fatal and serious collisions.

Purpose of the inquiry

Concerned about these high collision and casualty rates, the Transport Select Committee is launching an inquiry to scrutinise what action the Government is taking to reduce the risks of young and novice drivers being involved in a road traffic collision.

The Committee will be looking in detail at the Department for Transport’s commitment to explore whether Graduated Driver Licensing—or a similar scheme—should be introduced in England, as well as the suitability of the current framework of training and testing for new drivers, and the use of telematics to track driver behaviour. 

The inquiry is part of the Committee’s plans to explore road safety over the duration of this Parliament, considering the Government’s current approach and looking for interventions that would be most effective at reducing the number and severity of road traffic collisions. There will be a series of inquiries under the banner of road safety to investigate topics selected from written evidence.

Chair's comments

Launching the inquiry, Lilian Greenwood MP, Chair of the Transport Committee said:

“Road traffic collisions are one of the biggest killers of young people. In 2017, road traffic collisions accounted for 15% of deaths for people aged 15 to 24. Young and novice drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a road traffic collision than more experienced drivers. We want to explore why young and novice drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in a road traffic collision and determine what the Government can do to reduce these risks.

“Should there be a probationary period for new drivers where they can’t carry passengers or drive at certain times? Should new drivers be required to have a device in their car to track their driving? We want to know what you think.

“If you’re a new driver, how would these changes affect you? Probationary periods, tracking devices, restrictions on passengers—tell us what you think of these ideas. The Committee wants to come up with solutions that will increase safety without unreasonably restricting young drivers.”

Terms of reference 

The Committee invites evidence on: the reasons why young and novice drivers are at a higher risk of being involved in a road traffic collision, and what the Government can do to reduce these risks—this could include the use of telematic devices, proposals for a system of probation or Graduated Driver Licensing, or changes to training and testing for new drivers.

The Committee would like to receive written submissions no later than Friday 30 August. Evidence can be submitted through the web portal here.

Background 

This inquiry will form part of the Committee’s overarching inquiry into road safety which will run for the duration of this Parliament. Following a call for evidence in March 2019, the Committee will hold sub-inquiries into specific issues linked to the following questions:

  • How effective is the Government’s current approach to road safety? 
  • Are there any areas where the Government’s current approach to road safety could be improved? 
  • What interventions would be most effective at reducing the number and severity of road traffic accidents? 
  • What evidence is there on the effectiveness of these interventions? 
  • How can interventions to reduce the number and severity of road traffic accidents best be implemented? 

More than 140 pieces of written evidence have been received from a cross-section of UK society, including members of the public whose relatives have been killed in road traffic collisions; local authorities and local road safety partnerships; road safety organisations; road safety charities; representative bodies, academics and police. The Committee has already taken evidence for its sub-inquiry into road safety and mobile phones.

The Government announced on 18 July that its road safety action plan would contain a commitment to explore further whether graduated driver licensing—or a similar scheme—should be introduced in England. This will include research looking at the impact of limiting what less experienced drivers can do—such as a minimum learning period, not driving at night, or not driving with passengers under a certain age in the car—in their first few months on the road.

Further information

Image: gagnonm1993 from Pixabay

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