A road safety charity is calling on the government to introduce a ‘graduated’ licence for new drivers, despite new legislation that now means learners can drive on motorways.

The charity Brake says the move is a ‘step in the right direction’, but it claims that a more comprehensive overhaul is needed if the country is to prevent the ‘tragedy’ of young driver deaths.

Under Brake’s recommendations, new drivers would embark on a 12-month learner period, after which they would take an initial test. Upon passing that test, the organisation suggests that drivers should be allowed to drive independently, but with restrictions such as a late-night curfew.

Some countries have already introduced such a system, with Finland’s ‘two-phase’ licence being one of the best known. Under Finnish law, a driver’s first licence is valid for two years. After a minimum of six months, drivers can then take extra tuition and sit a second test to gain a full, unrestricted licence.

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According to Brake, the UK’s adoption of such a scheme would improve ‘stagnant’ road safety improvements and prevent up to 9,000 road casualties every year.

‘While [allowing learner drivers on motorways] is a small step in the right direction, a total overhaul in the way in which we learn to drive is urgently needed,’ said Joshua Harris, Brake’s director of campaigns.

‘Young people are disproportionality at risk on our roads – they represent seven percent of the driving population but they’re involved in a fifth of all road deaths – and this is ultimately down to inexperience. Training on motorways is important, but with just four percent of crashes taking place on these roads, the changes fall well short.

‘Brake urges a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system, which includes a minimum supervised learning period and restrictions for newly qualified drivers and is proven to work. A government report stated the public health benefits of GDL are indisputable and could prevent up to 9,000 casualties annually.’

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