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New graduated driving licence bill aims to tackle “overconfident young motorists”

Labour MP, Kim Leadbeater has introduced a new law to Parliament which could impose restrictions on new drivers

Driving licence UK

A new bill has been introduced to Parliament, calling for the introduction of so-called graduated driving licences (GDLs), which would impose restrictions on new drivers in order to curb what are being described as “often avoidable collisions”.

Under the proposed law, newly-qualified drivers would, for the first six months, have restrictions on the number of young passengers they are allowed to carry, as well as a zero limit for blood alcohol content. Other constraints may also be implemented, although exemptions would be made for work, medical and emergency situations.

Dubbed the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) (New Drivers) Bill, and introduced to Parliament by Kim Leadbeater, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, the new proposal has cross-party support from MPs and is due for a second reading on 17 May.

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According to government statistics, there were 29,429 people killed or seriously injured on the roads between June 2022 and June 2023. Just over a fifth of the fatalities were of people aged between 17 and 29 years old, with statistics from the year prior showing that male drivers aged between 17 to 24 are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured in an accident, compared with those aged 25 or over.

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When introducing her bill to Parliament, Leadbeater said: “Many of us will remember being new drivers. The inexperience, the lack of confidence or, sometimes, sadly often amongst younger men, the overconfidence.”

She continued, “We must never forget that behind [that] statistic there are thousands of lives, right across the country, grieving or going through unimaginable pain. Lives changed forever and families torn apart by tragic and often avoidable collisions.”

As alluded to earlier, the concept of graduated driving licences is not one just solely backed by one MP; in 2021 the Commons’ Transport Select Committee called on the government to implement such a scheme as evidence showed it would be “effective in reducing crash rates”.

The bill is also backed by the likes of the AA and RAC, the Association of British Insurers and the UK Road Offender Education (UKROEd), which only last month called on MPs to support GDLs to “to save the lives of young drivers.”

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RAC road safety spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “It’s high time a renewed focus was given to reducing casualties. Families up and down the country who have lost sons and daughters far too soon are looking for something to change, and graduated driving licences could well be the answer.”

“Passing the practical driving test is the very first step in anyone’s driving career, but there remains so much more to learn to become a safe, proficient and confident driver. We call on MPs to back this Bill and set the wheels in motion in creating legislation that has the potential to save lives.”

That said, the bill is not without its critics; spokesperson for the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), Ian Taylor, told Auto Express that the proposed legislation prioritises “more restriction over positive innovation”.

Raising concerns about how such restrictions may be implemented, Taylor explained how the ABD firmly stands by the adage of “Practice Makes Perfect” when it comes to driving, and that “better driver training from the start” and “education in road safety” are the keys to solving the issue.

Would you support the introduction of Graduated Driving Licences for young drivers? Let us know in the comments below...

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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