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Use of Northern Ireland graduated driver licensing scheme as a trial welcomed by IAM RoadSmart

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IAM RoadSmart has welcomed the Department of Transport commitment to monitor the Northern Ireland Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Scheme as a possible model for future roll out across the rest of the UK in the future.

IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest road safety charity has long campaigned for a bespoke British graduated driving licensing scheme for new drivers, who are the biggest at-risk driving group by a significant margin.

Under its long awaited proposals, the Northern Ireland Government plans to bring a number of provisions into force in 2019/20 including passenger carrying restrictions and a six-month mandatory learning period.

IAM RoadSmart is wholly in favour of the Northern Ireland approach, in particular the minimum learning period and some restrictions on peer group passengers. We remain to be convinced about the value of night curfews, but the real world experience in Northern Ireland will help ensure that the next steps are evidence based.

In addition IAM RoadSmart also strongly supports the Department for Transport’s commissioning of a £2 million young driver research programme. This will look into the effectiveness of a range of safety measures for young and novice drivers, both pre and post-test. These will include getting parents more involved in managing post-test hazardous situations as well as greater use of telematics to manage driver behaviour.

IAM RoadSmart is ready to provide its knowledge and expertise in developing the content of any new driver learning system and post-test interventions.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “IAM RoadSmart welcomes the new scheme for GDL in Northern Ireland. Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK today. New drivers are most at risk in their first year of driving and yet the current system abandons them to learn by their own, sometimes fatal, mistakes.”

She added: “The risk factors are well known; lack of experience in all traffic conditions but, especially rural roads, darkness and poor weather, attitude, distraction (by peer passengers or smartphones) and alcohol and drugs. Choosing effective restrictions to limit these risk factors should be the key objective of the government in creating a new licensing system that is practical, affordable and works to reduce young driver road deaths and injuries.

“Today’s news is a great first step in ensuring that a young person’s lifetime journey on our roads does not end before it has even started.”

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