Bereaved parents urge next UK government to pass law introducing new driving system for young and inexperienced drivers

RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, has today issued an open letter to the incoming government urging them to introduce a Graduated Driving Licensing (GDL) system in the UK, which the charity says would drastically reduce road crashes involving young and inexperienced drivers.

The letter, which has been signed by over 1900 people in just two weeks, has now been sent to all political parties ahead of the upcoming General Election on July 4, 2024, calling for the new law to be introduced within the first 100 days of the next Parliament.

Many of the signatories are bereaved parents whose sons and daughters were killed in young driver crashes, and are part of the Graduated Driving Licensing campaign group Forget-me-not Families Uniting, which was launched in April 2024 with the support of RoadPeace.

The RoadPeace letter follows the publication of the Road Safety Manifesto 2024 in May, co-ordinated by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), which has the support of almost 100 UK road safety organisations, including RoadPeace. The manifesto calls for the next government to adopt four key priorities to reduce road death and injury – one of those priorities is Graduated Driving Licensing.

For decades, road casualty data has shown that young and inexperienced drivers, aged between 17 and 24, are at a far greater risk of being killed or injured in a road crash than any other age group. They are involved in 24% of all collisions resulting in death or serious injury in Great Britain, despite representing only 7% of the driving population.

In 2022 alone, 4,935 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes in Great Britain involving at least one young driver. This figure includes victims of all ages, and not just those travelling in a young person’s car.

What is Graduated Driving Licensing?

Currently, there are no safety measures in place to protect young and inexperienced drivers. When a new driver passes their test, they can drive immediately like any other driver – travelling on motorways, carrying multiple passengers and driving at any time of the day or night.

Graduated Driving Licensing would ensure that young, novice drivers are given the time and space they need to become safe and competent drivers before they face high-risk situations.

The new law could mean that young, novice drivers are unable to carry peer-aged passengers and are unable to drive between midnight and 4am, for the first six months after passing their test, providing far greater protection for young people.

Graduated Driving Licensing has been in place in countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand for years. As a result, there have been reductions of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent in crashes resulting in death and serious injury involving young drivers.

Nick Simmons, CEO of RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, said: “Bereaved families, academics and road safety bodies have repeatedly called for the introduction of a Graduated Driving Licensing system in the UK for decades to ensure that young drivers and passengers are far better protected from road harm. However, these calls have been ignored, with concerns cited about restricting young people’s freedom.

“But as bereaved parents know all too well – nothing is more restrictive on a young person’s freedom than a fatal road crash.”

Nick added: “For over 30 years, RoadPeace has supported countless families of young drivers and passengers killed in road crashes, who have endured unimaginable pain. Enough is enough – we have a proven solution available that would save so many lives, so let’s put it in place within the first 100 days of the next Parliament.”

Jamie Hassall, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “The introduction of Graduated Driving Licensing is a critical step towards making our roads safer. Young and inexperienced drivers are disproportionately involved in serious and fatal collisions, and GDL has been proven internationally to significantly reduce these incidents.

“This measure is long overdue in the UK, and we strongly urge the next government to prioritize its implementation within the first 100 days of Parliament. The benefits in terms of lives saved and injuries prevented cannot be overstated.

“PACTS has recently published a manifesto with just four simple measures, including Graduated Driving Licensing, these will be the building blocks to enable the UK to reduce the number of people that are killed and seriously injured on our roads.

“When we have strong leadership and a strategic approach the UK has managed to halve the number of road deaths in a decade but since 2010 the focus has been lost and daily road deaths have remained at five a day. Investing in road safety is not just a moral duty but it’s good for people’s health and wellbeing, the environment, business and the country.”

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