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Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Tuesday, 21 April 2009 14:06 UK
Driving test shake-up for teens

L plate
The pre-qualification course will cover drink-driving and car care

Pupils will have the chance to earn a qualification at school that will count towards their driving test.

The idea is part of a government shake-up to to make young people better drivers.

More than a thousand young people are killed or seriously injured on the road every year and many of those have accidents within the first six months of passing their test.

As part of the new qualification, which is open to 14 to 17-year-olds, learners will be taught about how to behave on the roads.

Detailed lessons

The lessons will cover everything from the dangers of drink-driving to how to check your tyre pressure.

Seventeen-year-old Ria has just completed a trial-run of the course at Southgate College in north London.

She said: "I saw an accident recently and it was horrible. My Mum and I had to call the emergency services. It scares me that could happen to me."

Ria saw an accident recently and is worried it might happen to her

Ria starts driving lessons this summer and it's teenagers like her who will be able to do the new pre-driver qualification, which will be rolled out around the UK over the next two years.

The three-month course is optional, but if you pass you'll only have to do a short version of the current theory test.

'Shocking stories'

Joseph and Jonathan have also done the course and they say the stories their tutor told them of crashes involving young people really made an impression.

Joseph said: "It's pretty shocking stuff. Just the other day he was telling us about a crash where the car was completely caved in.

"We tend to show off more than the girls - get silly when we want to have a laugh."

But the question is, will these lessons make any difference? Jonathan seems to think so.

He said: "It just sticks - It's gonna have to. It's such a shock, like the stories we've been told. It's life or death, I know which I'd prefer."

On top of the pre-qualification course, other changes include a new section in the driving test where candidates will choose their own route without being directed by the examiner.

There are also proposals to bring down speed limits in areas where there's a greater risk of accidents, like around schools.

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