A leading road safety charity has called on the government to close a loophole in the law that allows learner drivers to amass more points than a newly qualified driver before being banned.

Under present rules, newly qualified drivers will have their licences revoked if they pick up six or more penalty points in the two years following their driving test. However, the law currently allows learner drivers to retain their licences despite collecting more than six points. In fact, learners can hold up to 11 points, and those who pass their tests with this number of points will only be banned if they receive more points after they qualify.

A Freedom of Information request by road safety charity Brake has revealed that worrying numbers of provisional licence holders are carrying penalty points, with more than 66,500 learner drivers having some sort of endorsement. Of those, more than 42,000 currently have six or more penalty points, while just over 1,000 learner drivers have more than 12 points - the number that would see full licence holders banned from driving.

UK provisional driving licence

In light of the findings, Brake is urging the government to close the “penalty point loophole” in a bid to improve safety. The organisation says 2017 figures show that a learner or inexperienced driver or motorcyclist was a contributory factor in incidents that led to three percent of road fatalities and five percent of road injuries.

To help combat this, Brake says the government should make learners who receive six or more points reapply for their licences. And the organisation also says the government should “consult on the viability” of imposing bans on learner drivers who pass this penalty-point threshold.

L plate on red car in UK

Joshua Harris, Brake’s director of campaigns, said learner drivers should be held to the same standards as those who have already passed their tests.

“How can it be right that learner drivers with a track record of committing multiple driving offences are still free to obtain a full licence and drive on our roads?” Harris asked. “Newly qualified drivers face losing their licence if they commit multiple driving offences so surely at least the same standards should apply to learner drivers too. We are calling on the government to look into this with a view to reduce the number of penalty points a learner driver can get before losing their licence and prevent them from taking a driving test with multiple points on their provisional licence.”