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Younger motorists may be banned from night driving in U.K. safety push

Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Most young American drivers enjoy the freedom to get behind the wheel of a car at any time of the day. The same goes for their British counterparts, but a new safety-focused initiative by the U.K.’s Department of Transport means that could be about to change.

In a bid to reduce accidents on British roads, the government is considering banning newly qualified drivers — the vast majority of whom are in their teens — from driving a vehicle at night until they have more experience.

Data reported by the Guardian suggests that 20% percent of U.K. motorists have a road accident within the first year of obtaining their license.

New measures being considered by the government include imposing a minimum period for learning to drive, banning passengers under a certain age from traveling with young drivers, and a ban on night driving, though officials have yet to reveal how long such restrictions might last.

Similar limitations are already in place in some parts of the U.S., including New York State, where citizens can obtain a driver’s license at 16, a year younger than in the U.K.

The state’s Graduated License Law places restrictions on drivers under 18 years of age. For example, those with a Class DJ (cars/trucks) or MJ (motorcycles) junior license, carried by 16 and 17 year olds, are prohibited from driving within the five boroughs of New York City, while rules for some parts of the state mean that under some circumstances a parent or guardian must travel as a passenger alongside the newly qualified driver.

In the U.K., current rules mean that new drivers can be forced to give up their license if they reach six penalty points within two years of passing their test.

The nation’s Automobile Association reacted cautiously to this week’s government announcement, suggesting that extreme safety measures could be an “unnecessary burden” for drivers and prove too restrictive.

But the government is still researching the idea to see how it might be implemented.

“We have some of the safest roads in the world, but we are always looking at ways to make them safer,” said Michael Ellis, the U.K.’s road safety minister. “Getting a driving license is exciting for young people, but it can also be daunting, as you’re allowed to drive on your own for the first time.”

Ellis added, “We want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it, can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads.”

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Trevor Mogg
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