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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Drivers 'need a year of lessons'
Learner driving sign
The ABI says new drivers should have classes for at least a year
Learner drivers should take lessons for a minimum of 12 months, the Association of British Insurers has suggested.

The ABI says the measure could cut up to 1,000 serious injuries and deaths among UK drivers aged 17-21 each year.

It is also calling for limits on passenger numbers and driving at night for newly qualified motorists as part of a safety campaign.

The Department for Transport said new drivers were encouraged to participate in a further scheme to build up skills.

"The driving test has been considerably strengthened in recent years and is one of the most demanding in the world," a spokesman said.

"It takes longer to qualify for a driving licence than it used to. Candidates receive more professional training leading up to the test than ever before."

He added: "We work closely with the insurance industry to influence the behaviour of young and newly-qualified drivers through incentives rather than regulation."

Recently, the insurance company firm More Than offered to cut its charges for any young motorists who agreed not to drive at night between 2300 and 0600.

'Getting worse'

Road safety organisations Brake, Roadsafe and Make Roads Safe, the RAC Foundation and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety have joined the ABI in calling for the shake-up - in varying degrees - of learner driver regulations.

Road deaths and injuries pie chart

Only 6% of licence holders are aged 17-24 but they account for more than 27% of all deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

According to research quoted by the ABI, young drivers with passengers are more likely to engage in "competitive" driving or show off to friends.

Stephen Haddrill, director general of the ABI, said: "Every day four people are killed or seriously injured in crashes involving young drivers.

"The trend is getting worse not better.

ABI PROPOSALS
Minimum learning period
Structured learning programme
Reduced passenger numbers
Limits on driving at night

"We urge the government to adopt these proposals to improve safety on our roads and reduce this tragic loss of life."

The coalition is also proposing a "structured learning programme" which would see young drivers record their hours and performance in a logbook.

Three-month period?

It proposes a minimum learning period but does not specify a length of time. The ABI said 12 months would be an "ideal scenario".

HAVE YOUR SAY
Restrict the engine size allowed after passing
Karen White, York

But the RAC Foundation is not convinced there are benefits in insisting learners should take lessons for that long.

"I can readily appreciate the benefits perhaps of a three-month learning period," said the RAC Foundation's Kevin Delaney.

"I'm not sure a 12-month learning period is the right way to go. It's probably going to be too long for many and may result in them not taking lessons or falling off the edge."

Learner drivers interviewed on BBC One's Breakfast expressed concerns about the potential cost of taking lessons for a year.

In 2004, a government consultation concluded an enforced learning period would impact on young people in rural areas.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Young drivers give their views on having more lessons



SEE ALSO
Study to change driver behaviour
19 Jun 06 |  Nottinghamshire

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