First-time drivers should be made to learn for a year before they can get their licence, say insurers.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is seeking a radical overhaul of the licence system in order to address the disproportionately high number of novice drivers that are involved in accidents.

12.5% of UK drivers are under 25 yet they account for 33% of those killed on the roads, according to the ABI, as well as making up 27% of personal injury car insurance claims in excess of £500,000.

learner driver

A disproportionate amount of learner drivers are killed on the roads


Otto Thoresen, Director General of the ABI, said: "Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads."

"A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean they will face lower motor insurance costs.

"We have all sidestepped this issue for too long. Northern Ireland is introducing reforms, and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today's young drivers become tomorrow's safer motorists."

The ABI wants to see:

  • A minimum 12-month learning period before taking the driving test to enable young learner drivers to gain more supervised practice
  • A ban on taking an intensive driving course as the sole means of learning drive
  • The lowering of the age at which young people can start learning to drive to age 16 and a half
  • No blood alcohol levels allowed in the first six months
  • Graduated driver licensing. This would include restrictions on the number of young drivers that can be carried by a young driver in the first six months after passing their driving test, reflecting the fact that the crash risk increases significantly with young passengers in the car

Kevin Steel, 28. is learning to drive under the current system. When asked about the proposals he told the Huffington Post: "Who is going to pay for this year of learning? Would it be government sponsored? You're talking £180 a month, which would alienate a lot of people.

Asked about other proposed measures Steel said: "Limiting the amount of passengers drivers can carry is fair enough I suppose and zero tolerance on alcohol is perfectly acceptable."

"I can see the benefits of (not allowing novice drivers to drive at night) in reducing traffic accidents, but this is a severe limitation on personal freedom, especially in the winter months.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond told the BBC: "We are already working with young people, the insurance industry and other key stakeholders to identify what else can be done to ensure that newly-qualified drivers are properly prepared and drive safely," he said.