New drivers could soon face new laws after the Department for Transport said it is to investigate introducing graduated driving licences
The proposals would limit the number of passengers new, young drivers could carry, set a minimum learning period of six months before a driving test could be taken and mandate the displaying of ‘P’ plates for the first two years after the passing of driving tests.
The news comes as a letter written by roads safety minister, Jesse Norman, says a proposed graduated driving licence system in Northern Ireland will be used as a “pilot” scheme to gauge whether graduated driving licences should be introduced across the UK.
In the letter, sent to Scottish SMP David Stewart, Norman writes: “The Department for Transport has decided to use the introduction of graduated driving licences in Northern Ireland as a pilot to gather evidence on the potential for graduated driving licences in GB”.
Northern Irish authorities are currently in the second stage of a public consultation, which proposes limiting the number of passengers new drivers aged 24 and under can carry for the first six months after passing their driving tests.
Under the plans, young drivers would only be allowed to carry one passenger aged between 14 to 20, between the hours of 11pm and 6am, for the first six months after passing their test – though immediate family members would be exempt from this rule.
The graduated driving licence would also mandate a minimum learning period of six months before a driving test can be taken, while new drivers would also have to display ‘R’ plates (short for ‘restricted’) for two years after passing the test – though any UK graduated driving licence scheme outside of Northern Ireland would most likely use the more familiar ‘P’ plates.
Novice drivers in Northern Ireland already face post-test restrictions, which mandate the carrying of ‘R’ plates for the first year of driving, and set a maximum speed limit of 45mph – though the proposed graduated driving licence system would see an end to that limit.