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Should It Be Illegal For Young Drivers To Carry Passengers?

Leading road safety charity 'Brake' are advocating a new phased way to license young drivers in attempt to improve the safety of our roads. Last week, Brake’s CEO Mary Williams posed this question to the Commons Transport Select Committee. 

While it may seem a strange thing to ask, it becomes clear why Brake have this on their minds. When you look at the statistics it becomes all too clear. Committee leader Huw Merriman MP noted that 21% of drivers killed or seriously injured fall into the 17-24yrs bracket. Despite the fact, this age group only accounts for 7% of licence holders. 

Williams claims that young drivers are “basically free commercial taxi drivers”, offering lifts to friends and often feeling pressurised to do so. Research carried out by the RAC has shown that younger drivers are “more likely to take risks, and that is exacerbated by their peers”. This is a bad combination for road safety. 

The idea behind Brakes scheme is to stop young drivers ferrying their friends around. Particularly, at an age when they are more likely to be in a fatal collision.

The new proposals suggest a period where young drivers cannot carry passengers. Other suggestions for a phased approach include young driver curfews; lower alcohol limits; and mandatory use of ‘P’ plates. These schemes are already in place in similar countries such as Canada, Australia, and Sweden. 

Many of Brakes supporters have large fleets of drivers and vehicles. These organisations often have an internal phased approach for their new drivers. This means that they can train, monitor, and test new commercial drivers before letting them loose on the roads. This means that the driver is more comfortable, the roads are safer and fleet owners can be confident in their staff.

The only measure in place, aimed at new drivers, is a law which strips them of their licence if they receive six penalty points within the first two years. Yet, if a young drivers first crash is fatal for them and a passenger, this legislation hardly seems fit for purpose.  

In 2019, 76 people were either killed or seriously injured on Great Britain’s roads on any given day. It is clear that there is an urgent need to update legislation to better protect the public. Brakes recommendations should definitely be taken seriously.

If you’re a commercial driver and you’ve experienced a phased licensing approach. Or you have any other ideas about how to improve licensing for young drivers, let us know your thoughts! 


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