What is Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)?
A Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system delivers a phased approach to driving which builds experience and competence to help minimise risk to young and novice drivers. #
GDL is proven to be effective at reducing young driver crashes where implemented around the world. A government commissioned report by TRL, in 2013, concluded that a GDL system would be effective and have indisputable benefits to public health in Britain.
There are many different versions of GDL in existence around the world but Brake advocates that any GDL system adopted in Great Britain should include a 12-month learner period, an initial test, and then a probationary period when drivers can drive independently but with restrictions – such as a late-night driving curfew or restrictions on the age of their passengers.
Why do we need Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)?
Put simply, we need a better licensing regime for young drivers because young drivers are disproportionately at risk on the UK’s roads. Young and novice drivers aged 17-24 make up 7% of licence holders but are involved in a quarter of the injury collisions (and 24% of fatal collisions) on Great Britain’s roads.
Why are young drivers at increased risk?
There are several reasons why young drivers are at increased risk on the roads. They predominantly stem from young drivers often underestimating how challenging it is to drive – and overestimating their own ability to react in dangerous situations. As a result, young drivers are more likely to take risks and engage in dangerous driving behaviours, such as speeding. Brake's fact page on young drivers explores e how brain development, overconfidence, inexperience and risk taking behaviour lead to young drivers being most at risk.
How close are we to Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)?
The Government's position on young drivers and GDL is best articulated in the Road Safety Statement, 2019. In summary, the Government is focusing its efforts on its Driver 2020 project but has committed to specific actions to: 'commission research to explore the potential of a Graduated Learner Scheme (GLS); commission research to explore the social and economic consequences of introducing Graduated Driving Licence (GDL)'.
Transport Minister, Rachel Maclean, responded to a parliamentary question on young driver safety, in 2020, by stating:
"We are assessing the merits of safer driving measures for new and novice drivers, including guardian agreements for night time driving, as part of the Department’s £2 million Driver 2020 research project. This work aims to make young drivers safer, more confident and more skilful in their first year of driving through non-legislative, technical or educational measures with potential to lower their risk of collisions. The project will complete in early 2022 due to being paused for coronavirus and will inform future thinking on young drivers’ policy."
Transport Select Committee inquiry
The Transport Select Committee have undertaken an inquiry into young and novice drivers, to which Brake submitted evidence. Brake chief executive, Mary Williams OBE, also provided oral evidence to the inquiry on 2 September 2020.
Were GDL adopted in 2004 and applied to only 17-19 year old drivers, it is feasible that between 2005-2018 56,775 casualties could have been prevented, including 7,833 killed or serious injured. 547 lives might have been saved. Based on DfT’s casualty prevention values, this equates to over £3.5 billion.Dr Neale Kinnear, Head of Behavioural Science, TRL