Government urged to force young learners into year-long training

The government faced further pressure this week to introduce tough restrictions on young drivers in order to cut the number of people killed on the roads each year.

MPs are calling on ministers to introduce a graduated licensing scheme, which would force learners to spend at least a year learning to drive.

The early day motion - a form of parliamentary petition - has been tabled urging the government to adopt the scheme being used in California, which has slashed the number of crashes involving 16-year-old drivers.

Department for Transport research also suggests a 12-month minimum learning period would reduce UK deaths and serious injuries by 1,000 each year.

The move comes as a powerful Commons committee prepares to hear oral evidence on ways to cut young driver deaths.

The Commons transport committee is looking at whether a new pre-test could cut accident rates.

These requirements include a compulsory number of hours or miles driven, additional training for motorway or night driving and mandatory professional tuition.

The committee will start taking evidence later this month and examine imposing a lower speed limit, a lower blood-alcohol limit, restrictions on the number of passengers who may be carried and restrictions on night driving for all young newly-qualified drivers.

Transport committee member and Carlisle MP Eric Martlew said: "We need a radical reform of education and training."

He expects the government to introduce legal restrictions on the size of engines and the number of passengers that can be carried, as well as a graduated licensing scheme.

There are also plans for novice drivers to complete a log book, detailing their driving experience in varying weather conditions.

Stephen Ladyman, the road safety minister, said recently there would have to be "fundamental" changes to the way people are taught to drive. He has rejected the idea of temporary restrictions on young drivers after they had passed their test, such as a late-night curfew or a ban on carrying more than one passenger, as these would be very difficult to enforce.

Instead, he favours reforms aimed at eradicating the reck- less attitude to road safety among some young drivers before they pass their tests.

An ABI spokesman said the trade body was "encouraged" by the growing recognition of the issue and urged the government to look at "innovative" solutions.