UK & World News

  • 17 November 2012, 20:12

Young Drivers 'Face Passenger Restrictions'

Young drivers could be banned from carrying passengers who are not members of their own family in a bid to cut the number of deaths on the roads.

More than 1,500 17 to 24-year-olds in the UK were killed or seriously injured while driving a car last year, according to the Department for Transport.

One in every eight drivers is under 25, but they account for a third of the number of people who die on the Britain's roads.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the Daily Telegraph he would consider measures put forward by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) which could cut the number of accidents involving young motorists.

"There is a suggestion as to whether you should look at a restriction whether anyone could carry passengers for six or nine months when they have first passed their test," he said.

"There are suggestions about them only perhaps being allowed to take a family member to drive a car when you are learning, you have to have a qualified driver in the car. So these are all sorts of areas that I think we can look at."

Among the ABI proposals are a ban on carrying passengers other than family members, a minimum one-year learning period, restrictions on night time driving for the first six months after passing their test and a lower alcohol limit.

The ABI's Huw Evans said:"We absolutely acknowledge that most young drivers are responsible people who want to learn a useful life skill that will be very important for them both in their work and their private lives.

"The key thing is to help them to become safer and most accidents happen not because people are being reckless but because they're inexperienced."

Kelly Phillips, 17, from Surrey, died in 2005 when the car she was a passenger in hit a tree at 80mph.

She had been sitting in a car listening to music with a 17-year-old boy who did not yet have his licence - the decision to go for a drive on the public road cost them both their lives.

Kelly's mother, Della Phillips, told Sky News: "I try to hide behind this facade of strength. But inside I'm crying all the time, I'm missing her all the time.

"It's like a craving, you're not seeing the memories you expected to see when you have a child."

Ms Phillips is calling for an alternative approach to the measures being considered by the Government and is backing a free education campaign called Drive IQ - an online education programme that puts pre-drivers and novices through potentially hazardous road scenarios. 

Some 350 schools and 30,000 young people already use the programme but it could be rolled out to thousands more.

She said: "When it comes to young people being safer in cars, lack of knowledge can kill. I know that only too well.

"We want every mum and dad out there to ensure their child and their child's school/college uses Drive IQ straightaway as it addresses attitude and behaviour.

"We have to tackle this issue right now." 

Louise Ellman, chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, told Sky News that something has to change.

"We need the Government to come forward very quickly now about what their proposals are.

"There should be support for voluntary activities, perhaps in schools, perhaps in driving clubs to develop positive attitudes towards driving before people actually take their tests."

:: Road Safety Week runs from November 19 to November 25. For more information visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk.

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