Changes to driving test age from 17 to 18 welcomed by East Anglian motorists

17 year old twins, Steve (left) and Matthew Rudram celebrate passing their test in 2012. However, un

17 year old twins, Steve (left) and Matthew Rudram celebrate passing their test in 2012. However, under the new recommendations they would have to wait until they were 18 to take their test. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

East Anglian motorists and instructors yesterday broadly welcomed proposals that could see teenagers waiting until they are 18 before they can take their driving test.

A government-commissioned report recommended that the driving test age should be raised from 17 to 18 to help improve safety and reduce the number of casualties and serious crashes on Britain's roads.

Poll: Should teenagers have to wait until they are 18 before taking the driving test?

The proposals by transport research group TRL suggested young people can start learning to drive at the age of 17, but would have to wait until they were 18 and have at least 100 hours of daytime and 20 hours of nighttime supervised practice before they can take their test.

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Having passed the test, they would then get a probationary 12month licence and would have to display a green 'P' plate.

Restrictions placed on them would include a night-time driving curfew running from 10pm to 5am, unless accompanied by a passenger over the age of 30, and a ban on carrying passengers under 30 years old for all novice drivers aged under 30.

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The report said a ban on any mobile phone use and a lower alcohol limit should be considered for young drivers.

TRL said this graduated driver licensing system could result in annual savings of 4,471 casualties and a saving in cost terms of £224m.

More than 60pc of EDP readers agreed with an online poll yesterday asking if teenagers should wait until they are 18 to take their driving test.

Alan Brazewell, of Chilled Driving Tuition, which is based in Norfolk, north Suffolk and Peterborough, welcomed the proposals, but questioned the restrictions of the probationary licence.

'I think a lot of the proposals are very good. There is a big proportion of 17 to 24-year-olds having a high rate of accidents than other age groups. This has been trialled in other countries and it has been successful in those countries. If it makes the roads a safer place, they are measures that should be taken. The only one I think is a bit odd is having a 30-year-old in the car with a new driver after 10pm.

'They will be much better drivers after 120 hours of driving experience,' he said.

More than one fifth of deaths on Britain's roads in 2011 involved drivers aged 17 to 24, and around 10pc of novice drivers are caught committing an offence within their probationary period.

The report is being considered by the government which is due to publish a Green Paper later this year.

However, John Mason, of Melton Constable, who retired as a driving instructor two years ago, said he had his reservations.

'I do not see what difference a year is going to make. What they are talking about is changing the thinking of a young person and raising the test age up to 18 is not going to do much. Statistics show that they do not calm down until they are in their 20s,' he said.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: 'We are committed to improving safety for young drivers and reducing their insurance costs.'

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