Young drivers could face night time driving curfew (and other restrictions) to reduce accidents

Posted by Tim Williamson on
Young motorists should be aware of recent talks held between the Department for Transport and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which focused on ways of reducing firstly the number of accidents that young drivers aged between 17 and 24 years have whilst driving on our roads and secondly the insurance premiums that they have to pay for the privilege of being able to drive.

It is estimated that a 1/5 of road accidents resulting in death or serious injury, involve drivers under the age of 24. The average annual insurance premium for a 17 to 18 year old road users is more than £1,800 according to reports.

We understand that a full Government green paper outlining possible future legislation is going to be published later this year. According to reports, some of the ideas discussed at the recent meeting include the following:

  • Limiting the number of passengers motorists aged between 17 and 24 can carry
  • A zero alcohol limit for such motorists
  • Changes to driver training so that lessons could take place on motorways
  • Disqualification for "totting up" to six penalty points rather than the current 12 points
  • Extending the probationary period from two to three years.

Motorists will be aware of the existing two year probationary period which follows the passing of a driving test. If a new driver accumulates six or more penalty points within that time then the Secretary of State has the power to revoke their driving licence until they have passed a re-test. It is likely that this power would continue.

What is arguably the most controversial proposal discussed we understand at the meeting is that motorists aged between 17 and 24 could be required to observe a night time curfew, which would mean a prohibition on driving between certain hours in the evening and at night.

We wonder whether or not the public would really support what appears to us to be a dramatic interference with the rights of someone who has already passed a full driving test. In our view better driver education is required and a more extensive driving examination (to include driving in hazardous conditions and during the hours of darkness) ought to be adopted.

In addition, how would night time be defined? Clearly driving at 6.00 pm in December is very different to driving at 6.00 pm in June. So if the curfew is not defined by reference to hours then what yardstick could be used? How could darkness be adequately defined? What about driving at dusk or dawn? Would that be covered we wonder?

We imagine that what is envisaged is a ban on driving when it is 'pitch black' but we cannot imagine that such a phrase will ever make its way on to the statute book.

It is important to emphasise at this stage that this is only one of a number of ideas being discussed.

Young drivers' seminar

Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team works with and has experience of defending young drivers throughout the country. The Blake Morgan Young Drivers' seminar is aimed at educating young drivers about not just lawful driving but safe driving including speed limit awareness and hazard perception. For further information please contact events@blakemorgan.co.uk.

Our experience is that individuals are keen to learn about safe driving and appreciate the importance of safe driving. Of course we must look at all options in an attempt to reduce the number of casualties on our roads but the suggestion of a curfew for young drivers seems to us to be one dimensional and the implications would need to be thoroughly thought through before such an idea could be implemented.

About the Author

Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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