120 hours of practice and a year before novice drivers allowed to go solo

Cycle campaign charity CTC has put its weight behind government calls for young people to undergo a longer, tougher training process before being granted a driving licence and to have increased restrictions on what they are allowed to do once licensed. The CTC has also suggested that cycle training should be an integral part of learning to drive.

A new report from the Transport Research Laboratory concludes that learning to drive should take at least a year and should include a mandatory 120 hours of practice, including 20 hours at night.

Once a novice driver has passed his or her test, they would be subject to ‘graduated driver licencing’, preventing them from driving in the circumstances when they are currently most likely to be involved in a collision.

The problem that’s being addressed here is that young and novice drivers are over-represented in collisions. They make up just 5% of drivers, but under-24s are involved in 25% of collisions. The CTC adds that they pose a substantially higher risk to cyclists than older drivers.

The TRL reports suggests restrictions on the ability of new drivers to drive between 10pm and 5am and to carry passengers under the age of 30.

CTC suggests that drivers should also have to experience what it is like to cycle before they are allowed to drive. CYTC’s Chris Peck says: “This could easily be done through providing good quality cycle training to all children at school, or through offering cycle awareness as part of the driver training syllabus.”

The CTC also points out that young people are driving less, which makes the level of risk they pose to other road users even more startling, but affords a useful opportunity.

“In the 1990s over 50% of 17-20 year old men held licences, for the past decade that has ranged between 30-40%. Similarly, young women are less likely to hold licences than they did in the past. Levels of driving amongst young people have plummeted in recent years, with a 42% fall in the distance travelled over the last 15 years, from 2,268 miles per year for 17-20 year-olds in 1995, to just 1,310 in 2011.”

“The Government should be using the natural decline in motoring to make sure that the alternatives to driving - like cycling and public transport - are safer, cheaper and more accessible to young people, thereby embedding those more positive, healthier and less dangerous transport behaviours.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.