Graduated Driving Licence

Ahead of the General Election, the AA asked politicians to address the number of teenage deaths on the roads by limiting peer passengers in the first six months after passing tests.

The AA has suggested that Graduated Driving Licences (GDLs) should be introduced in Britain to try to improve road safety among newly qualified motorists.

A GDL allows new drivers to progress through several stages of experience learning and restriction where supervision is required.

This could include winter weather driving restrictions and limits on the number of passengers you can carry when driving late at night.

As you progress through each stage, you’ll gain more privileges until you’re granted a full driver’s licence after completing all the relevant requirements.

The first 1,000 miles an inexperienced driver covers are seen as the most crucial stage in the process, and we could also see legislation introduced to manage this period.

New Zealand is among the countries where a similar scheme has been introduced and, since legislation was introduced there, there’s been a 23 per cent reduction in car collision injuries for 15 to 19-year-olds, and a 12 per cent reduction for 20 to 24-year-olds in the country.

Interestingly, Northern Ireland has had something similar in place for a number of years.

After passing their driving test in Northern Ireland, drivers are required to display ‘R’ plates for no less than 12 months.

The maximum speed permitted for newly qualified drivers in the first year of driving without ‘L’ plates is 45mph.

Although I remember seeing ‘R’ plates during my first trip to Belfast in the late 90s, the ‘R’ plate system was apparently introduced in 1968.

On average, five people per day are killed on UK roads and 82 are seriously injured.

But one in five young drivers crash within a year of passing their test and 1,500 young drivers are killed or seriously injured each year.

However, with every extra same-age passenger, a driver is four times more likely to crash.

The AA’s most recent GDL proposal would limit newly qualified drivers from having same-age peer passengers for six months once they’ve passed their test.

Does the proposal have support from Parliament?

As well as GDLs being backed by numerous safety organisations, the Bill has cross-party backing in the House of Commons.

On 7 May 2024, a new Graduate Driving Licence Bill was proposed by Labour MP, Kim Leadbeater.

This is the latest in many attempts made in recent years to introduce GDLs into law.

In 2020, Theresa May’s Government attempted the same, but none so far have progressed despite a number of parliamentary debates.

While the current Bill proposal is largely based on the same stage-restrictive learning programme of previous GDL attempts, this time it’s been introduced to Parliament under the ‘Ten Minute Rule’.

(This rule allows a backbench MP to make their case for a new Bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes).

The bill passed its first reading, as is now awaiting a second reading.

It’s also worth noting that, as a Labour MP proposed the bill and we now have a Labour Government, its implementation has become all the more likely.

What’s the impact on HGV drivers?

Although this hasn’t been suggested yet, we’re all wondering if there would be some merit in restrictions being placed on newly qualified HGV and PSV drivers.

Perhaps restricting their working hours to increase safety, or requiring them to be supervised for the first [‘x’ number] of hours they drive an HGV?

Without seeing the data, it is hard to know whether these are good ideas.

But one imagines that the same risks and dangers aren’t so prevalent with someone driving professionally for work.

Additionally, the pressures on the country from driver shortages are unlikely to get such proposals any traction in parliament.

Either way, it’s something to bear in mind when watching the news on this legislation unfold.

Let me know what you think! Please email me at to get in touch.