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Research shows support for 12-month learning period for new drivers

New research conducted by IAM RoadSmart has found “overwhelming” support for a 12-month minimum learning period for new drivers before they can take the practical driving test.

In its survey of more than 2,000 motorists, the charity found that more than two-thirds (68%) backed the suggestion that all new drivers, regardless of age, should undergo at least a year’s training and supervised practice before being allowed to take their practical test.

In 2019, the Government committed to investigating some form of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) including the possibility of a 12-month minimum learning period as a key component but have not provided any firm conclusions.

IAM Roadsmart is calling for urgent action on the issue, citing the evidence presented to the recent House of Commons Transport Committee Inquiry into Young and Novice Drivers along with the public support demonstrated in its latest study.

IAM RoadSmart says that a move to Graduated Driver Licensing is a crucial step to improving road safety.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “The Government must listen to the concerns of the vast majority of motorists who clearly understand the long-term safety benefits that a 12-month minimum learning period for all new drivers would bring.

“A lifetime of safe driving starts by gaining the right experience behind the wheel. Even the Government’s own statistics show that one in five new drivers crash within their first year on the road, so a longer learning period can only help make our roads safer for all road users.”

The Government confirmed that driving tests and driving lessons have been suspended from January 5 during 'Lockdown 3'.

The study also found that around two-thirds (65%) of people also support more encouragement for post-test training, believing that it would be beneficial for drivers to improve their skills through advanced driver training and testing. This rises to 71% among drivers aged 17 to 49.

Greig added: “Lessons learnt at the start of your driving career can pay dividends and if new drivers had longer to experience all road types, in all weathers and at all times of the day and night before their test, the benefits can only increase.

“Experienced license holders need to update their observation, anticipation and planning skills too, to ensure they remain safe throughout their driving and riding careers.”

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