Are graduated licences the answer for new drivers?

University boffins have come up with an admirable idea to safe lives by keeping young drivers off the roads at night.

The research by Cardiff University suggests special licences for motorists 19 and under would save 200 lives a year and lead to 1,700 fewer serious injuries on roads. Of course, any idea that saves lives on this scale is entirely laudable – but you have to wonder if these researchers locked away in the rarefied atmosphere of academia’s ivory towers have a grasp on reality.

Let’s limit the time young drivers spend on the road at night, they say. Great – explain to me just how you maintain a curfew on drivers. Let’s take a youngster who works shifts and needs a car to keep a job. Surely researchers are not suggesting that these youngsters should stay at home rather than work because the likelihood is lives will be saved.

Perhaps they just mean limiting night driving to less responsible drivers. Just let me know how you differentiate between responsible and irresponsible.

Then they suggest younger drivers should have an older chaperone. Another barmy idea. Do they really think mum or dad has the time and inclination to escort their kids every time they want to go out in the evening?

If I remember correctly, not having to taxi the kids is one of the main reasons parents encourage children to drive.

I’m not the only one who thinks a graduated driving licence scheme for youngsters is bonkers.

“While it may be good news for the industry that the issues facing younger drivers are firmly on the agenda, can this scheme actually be enforced properly and will it significantly reduce the risk of crashes?” said Steve Sweeney, head of car insurance at

“Enforcing this system will be incredibly hard to do in practice and I don’t believe it will actually keep young motorists off the roads and sticking to the rules.

“Young or newly qualified drivers are more at risk than experienced drivers whenever they get in the car, no matter whether it is night or day, and reducing the amount of time they are able to spend in their car will surely hinder their chances of gaining necessary experience on the road.”

Helping youngsters find cheaper car insurance while staying safe behind the wheel are excellent aims – but the graduated licence does not seem the best way of achieving them.

Of course I’m being slightly obtuse (I’m not called ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ for nothing!), but I think it’s important to highlight the fact that we are living in the real world. Fortunately there are some more workable solutions out there – offering serious financial incentives for new drivers looking for car insurance – by using GPS technology to track drivers movements. Now that’s sensible thinking.

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