Road safety boss says no to 16-year-old learner drivers on the road
LEARNER drivers should not be on public roads at 16 years old, according to the chairman of a road safety charity.
Jimmy Martin, chairman of Gloucestershire road safety charity, Time and Place, said they should only be allowed to get behind the wheel at 17.
This comes on the back of a report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) which called for the learner drivers to start driving on a provisional licence at 16 and a half, instead of 17.
ABI said the learner drivers should be allowed to go on public roads younger, but must spend at least a year with L-plates before taking their test.
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It is part an overhaul it said will help improve the safety of young drivers.
Mr Martin said: "I don't think they should go on public roads, not that young. We should get them up to a certain standard before they drive on roads.
"When they finally get out on public roads at 17, they will have some idea of handling and controlling a car."
He added that 17 was an "adequate age", and encouraged drivers to start getting used to cars at 16, but not on public roads.
The ABI report said young drivers 'frequently over-estimate their abilities, and under-estimate dangers'.
According to the association these measures are needed to reduce the high-crash risk young drivers face, and to lower their motoring insurance costs.
Otto Thorsen, ABI's director general, insisted the government needs to follow Northern Ireland's example in introducing motoring reform. "A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving," he said.
Other measures called for by the organisation includes a ban on an intensive driving course as a sole means of learning and restrictions on the number of young passengers drivers can carry in their car for six months after passing their test. They also want a restriction on young drivers driving at night.
Figures from Gloucestershire County Council showed the most accident-prone drivers are 20 to 24-year-olds.
Garry Handley, road safety team leader for the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership said: "Driving is a skill for life and we encourage the best tuition available, so anything to increase learning and safety must be welcomed."