Tough tests plan for young drivers

Road safety campaigners in Norfolk today welcomed moves to make driving tests tougher for young people in a bid to cut the number of crashes.

Road safety campaigners in Norfolk today welcomed moves to make driving tests tougher for young people in a bid to cut the number of crashes.

One possible change could be an expansion of the existing 40-minute practical driving test into two stages.

The new-look test might also cover a broader range of skills, including driving at night and on different types of road.

But limiting the amount of driving that newly-passed young drivers can do has been ruled out by the government, which has asked The Driving Standards Agency (DSA), the body responsible for the driving test, to review the testing and training regime.

Andrea Jackson, from Mattishall, who has campaigned for road safety since her teenage son David died when the car he was in crashed on a notorious stretch of the A47, said: “I support tougher driving tests, although I actually think people should be 18 before they can even start to learn to drive. It's18 for everything else and when you get behind the wheel it is a dangerous machine. I also think once they have passed they should have to display P plates for a year and they should have a lower speed limit attached to them.”

The inclusion of safe driving principles in the school curriculum is also being looked at.

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Bryan Edwards, communications manager for the Norfolk Casualty Reduction Partnership, said: “We welcome anything that would help to reduce the number of casualties on our roads.

“Last year we identified young drivers as a problem area and again in 2007 young drivers are a priority not just in terms of enforcement but education too.”

A radio advert featuring boxer Jon Thaxton is due to be released this month aimed at a younger audience.

Driving instructors are also backing the changes.

Richard Minkler, boss of 5 Day in Norwich, which offers intensive driving courses, said: “We support the moves although we have been doing many of the things they are suggesting for two years now, including classroom based training.

“What is needed is a change in attitude so that they understand it is not just about passing a test.”

Jackie Willis, who runs Driving Education and Training Service from Colton, near Norwich, agreed.

“I think it is a move in the right direction. I think graduated licensing is better, that is where they pass a test but it is just the first rung and they have certain restrictions before they can get to the next level. It could be they are not allowed on a motorway until they undergo further instruction or they have to have a level of experience before they can drive certain powered vehicles. The same with night time driving and driving with passengers.

“They need to see it as 'right I can now go solo but that does not make me a driver'.”