CTC supports calls for tougher driver testing process

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

by John Stevenson   October 16, 2013  

Young and novice drivers should have to undertake 120 hours of practice, says TRL (CC licensed image by qorize:Flickr)

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.”

15 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Wow, head over to the CTC site to see that graph which really does illustrate the need for younger drivers to face tougher testing. That said I do wonder that no matter how tough the tests, the young male population are still likely to ignore all they have been taught (just look at the graph now for young male and female). What would reduce this would be tougher penalties or better still their lovely boy racer cars were keyed by passing cyclists whilst policemen hold them back Wink

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

sm's picture

posted by sm [359 posts]
16th October 2013 - 19:23

36 Likes

Haha, love the image. More of this sort of thing please. Big Grin

posted by thelimopit [119 posts]
16th October 2013 - 20:00

32 Likes

It seems that one section of society is dedicated to preventing another section from enjoying any of what have come to be called 'privileges' that the rest of us enjoyed in better times. Driving is not even slightly difficult. It is not the equivalent of A-levels, it is simply a means to get from house A to work B. Without a car the chance of getting one of the hugely diminished number of decent jobs is vanishingly low.

Having only just returned to 4 wheels after 2 years of no decent job for the above reason I frankly never really want to see a bicycle again. Mine did me no favours as I ploughed through the wind and rain to get to the 'Jobcentre'. Didn't see many of you lot out there last winter either.

I passed my driving test after 2 proper lessons and a tour of Scotland with a mate. I didn't hit anything or anyone then and I haven't since. I'm not alone: this country has the best accident statistics in the world and it's about time we gave ourselves a pat on the back for a change instead of this continual sad navel-gazing which will eventually bring the whole place to dayglo ruin.

posted by sidesaddle [70 posts]
16th October 2013 - 20:42

35 Likes

We already have one of the most stringent tests in the world and the one of the most oppressive as far as regulations and laws are concerned. Put a young person behind a wheel (male or female) and on the whole they will drive badly, it's exiting.
Look at your own driving, do you obey speed limits or are you a good driver who doesn't need to? Of course they are for other people.
It comes back to sanctions, few traffic police on the road, speed cameras painted bright yellow so only the registered blind or complete idiots get caught. Suspended sentence for killing someone through careless/dangerous driving?
One more law to be ignored.

posted by peterben [59 posts]
16th October 2013 - 21:15

20 Likes

Well it would certainly free up roads eventually....conservatively, £20 an hour lesson thats, £2400... Surprise

Im 22, a member of the young male population, a sensible driver and a cyclist...Not a good suggestion and one that does cyclists as a community no good in the long run...imo.

posted by 02curtisb [71 posts]
16th October 2013 - 21:16

18 Likes

I would much rather see a compulsory 'competency review' of driving every 5-10 years. While young drivers aren't a shining beacon of driving ability most of my tut moments are with drivers over the age 30.

A regular review of driving ability would have two aims:
1. Ensure people are medically fit to drive

2. Asses driving ability, give critical feedback on driving skills and address those if required.

A good lesson for me was doing my motorbike test having passed my driving test 15 years earlier. It certainly sharpened my road craft having an instructor pointing out all my bad habits I'd picked up with 15 years of doing my own thing and that was with me coming from a cyclist background.

posted by kitkat [264 posts]
16th October 2013 - 21:34

23 Likes

sm - "Wow, head over to the CTC site to see that graph which really does illustrate the need for younger drivers to face tougher testing."

Confirms what I've thought since soon after starting to cycle. Young men are in general terrible (specifically, aggressive and selfish) drivers.

Personally, if I ruled the world, I'd raise the minimum driving age for males (and only for males) to 25. Sadly I doubt that radical feminist cyclists (which would presumably be the only political support available for my perfectly reasonable plan) are a sufficiently numerous group to get that law passed.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [885 posts]
16th October 2013 - 22:46

23 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Confirms what I've thought since soon after starting to cycle. Young men are in general terrible (specifically, aggressive and selfish) drivers.

Personally, if I ruled the world, I'd raise the minimum driving age for males (and only for males) to 25. Sadly I doubt that radical feminist cyclists (which would presumably be the only political support available for my perfectly reasonable plan) are a sufficiently numerous group to get that law passed.

What utter tosh! Yes young men can be crap drivers but young women too are just as awful mainly due to the fact that they seem unable to put down their mobile phones. There are plenty of inattentive women drivers out there fiddling with their phone, checking make-up, nattering to their passengers, etc. Does the name Emma Way remind you of anything? Both sexes are just as bad just in slightly different ways.

I'd prefer to see all new drivers take the modern equivalent of the cycle proficiency test before they take their on road test as it would certainly teach them hazard perception and build-up a slight empathy for us cyclists who may end up on the painful side of their poor driving.

posted by sam_smith [51 posts]
17th October 2013 - 1:07

16 Likes

Young motorbike riders have to undertake Compulsory Basic Training as a part of their driving test. It would make a neat detail, already available as a provided facility, of a network of cycle trainers across the UK to require a Bikeability 3 level of competence as a prerequisite for taking a driving test, and where the candidate cannot ride a bicycle the training can be undertaken on a tricycle or equivalent machine.

It might also be useful to look at the options open for managing the issue of vocational licences (C, D, E categories), where the licence can be revoked if the person is judged not to be a fit person. Having just read of a driver in court for assault of a school crossing patrol attendant, and her 'previous' of violence, and being sectioned under mental health legislation, one wonders whether such controls should be extended to those holding C1, D1, and E1 licences.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [537 posts]
17th October 2013 - 2:15

14 Likes

I agree with KitKat. A compulsory assessment would make sense - and create more of the jobs poor old SideSaddle is looking for.

Women drivers? As bad as men. Especially speeding in 30mph areas.

I worry a little about the standards of some driving instructors as well. I often see them instructing at 31mph and found one parked on double yellow lines on a blind bend recently - probably giving an example of how not to park?

As I've been droning about on this site for years speed is the key factor. Once it becomes unacceptable to speed in built up areas cycling will surge.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1118 posts]
17th October 2013 - 8:22

19 Likes

The CTC report looks flawed. It seems to suggest that because young drivers are involved in more KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) collisions than older drivers, that somehow they are a greater risk to cyclists. CTC needs to look more closely at the data. If they did, they would recognise that young drivers kill and injure themselves and others generally at night, at times and in places where there are no cyclists.

I'd like to see CTC reference much more specific research before they make these pronouncements. The figures on the KSI by age/gender graph are ridiculously high too, suggesting that UK suffered 15 to 20 million KSI casualties per year!!

Please CTC, if you are going to try to make a serious campaigning point, do it from robust analysis, rather than bias confirmatory assumption.

posted by Kendal Brat [5 posts]
17th October 2013 - 9:15

17 Likes

There should be a personality test before anything else. There are some vicious, nasty psychopaths out there who will happily glass you for catching your eye in the pub, or beat their wife for being late with dinner. Strangely enough they're not nice, calm, courteous drivers.
A conviction for violence should mean a driving ban.
A few years ago the government mentioned driving bans for burglars, mainly to prevent them travelling to commit crime. Needless to say that never happened, one argument against being someone who'll commit one type of crime is hardly likely to care about committing another - driving while disqualified or unlicensed. Which leads to another current problem. Driving while disqualified is not treated anywhere near harshly enough (like all other crimes, to be fair).

posted by racyrich [186 posts]
17th October 2013 - 9:37

18 Likes

kendal Brat

"they would recognise that young drivers kill and injure themselves and others generally at night, at times and in places where there are no cyclists. "

I don't understand your point. Are you saying cyclists don't cycle at night? They do, you know. And certainly my experience is young male drivers are at their worst late at night, as the rule seems to be 'the darker it is, the faster I can go'.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [885 posts]
17th October 2013 - 14:36

15 Likes

sam_smith

"Yes young men can be crap drivers but young women too are just as awful "

That's not my experience, and, more objectively, its not what the statistics say either.
Young male drivers are the worst. The stats show them having more accidents, and show them killing more cyclists.

There don't appear to be stats for the frequency of screaming the c-word at cyclists (the c-word not being 'cyclist') but I'd bet money on them 'winning' that one also.

While I realise there are plenty of distracted and inept young women drivers, what I notice most is the sheer belligerence and aggression of many young males.

This doesn't give me pleasure to note, what with being male myself, but young guys are also the overwhelming majority of the anti-social and selfish pavement cyclists.

At the other end of the age scale, where driving gets a bit bad again (though more due to infirmity and being in denial about it than through aggression and selfishness), it seems less gender-biased and if anything elderly women might be a bit worse than elderly men. Perhaps the guys calm down as the testosterone drops while they tend to be more experienced than the women?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [885 posts]
17th October 2013 - 14:52

11 Likes

Drivers licences should last for 5 years then you should have to retake the test.

posted by earth [141 posts]
22nd October 2013 - 21:46

10 Likes