News from Brake
Thursday 10 May 2018
The Driver & Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland has published its response to the consultation on Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) and changes to the practical driving test, setting out which proposals it intends to take forward. The consultation, which ran from November 2017 to January 2018, sought views on measures such as allowing learner drivers on to Motorways with Approved Driving Instructors and the programme of training drivers would follow as part of GDL.
Commenting on the response, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “Brake welcomes the move to implement Graduated Driver Licensing in Northern Ireland as an important first-step in improving the safety of novice drivers. We believe, however, that the proposals set out in the Driver & Vehicle Agency’s response do not go far enough and could still leave novice drivers ill-equipped to manage the dangers associated with driving. Research and international best practice has shown that the most effective system of Graduated Driver Licensing has a minimum learning period of one year, not the six months in the NI model, and that newly qualified drivers should have limited exposure to some of the highest risk situations, such as night-time driving, until completing further training and a second test.”
The Northern Irish Government will bring in reforms to implement Graduated Driver Licensing during 2019/2020. The Department for Transport announced that this will serve as a pilot with the potential to roll it out across the rest of the UK at a later date.
Mr Harris continued: “We welcome the progress in Northern Ireland but it is clear that we need action across the wider UK now. In 2016 almost 15% of road crashes were caused by drivers aged between 17-24 years old , with research showing that the combination of youth and inexperience makes younger drivers a high road safety risk. We know that Graduated Driver Licensing works - a Government commissioned report from 2013 said that in Great Britain 4,471 casualties and £224 million could be saved by its introduction  – so there is no reason to delay. The Government must act to stop the carnage on our roads and introduce a Graduated Driver Licensing system across the whole of the UK as a matter of priority.”
Notes to editors
 Department for Transport statistics, RAS30025, Reported casualty rates by age band, road user type and severity, Great Britain, 2016
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.