Driving test 'may be made harder'New attitudes needed by teenage drivers

02 January 2007

Hands on car steering wheel

The driving test may be made harder in a bid to improve road safety and cut the high rates of accidents involving young motorists.

The government is also considering changes which could make it compulsory to have a certain level of formal training before sitting the test, Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman told ‘The Times’.

One idea is to put safe driving on the school curriculum to tackle the reckless attitude which some teenagers - particularly boys - have when they first get behind the wheel.

The Driving Standards Agency is looking at a range of changes to improve road safety with a consultation expected later this year. However, the Department for Transport said that no firm proposals had yet been put forward.

New attitudes needed

Mr Ladyman told The Times that the current system allowed would-be drivers to learn the skills needed to pass the test without properly shaping the attitude needed to handle cars safely.

He said: ‘We may need to start doing driver education while young people are still at school, introducing them to the rules, dangers and responsibilities of the road at a much earlier age.

‘We have developed this attitude that you first learn to pass the test and then you learn to drive.

‘It's an option to have more formal training. We have to debate whether there should be some level of compulsion.’

He made clear that changes to the test itself were being considered: ‘It may need to be expanded significantly and made much more thorough.’

Research by the Department for Transport reveals that young men have the best pass rates in the driving test yet are the most dangerous drivers once they pass.

Male drivers aged 17-20 are almost ten times more likely to be killed or seriously injured behind the wheel than men aged 40-59, while young women also have far lower accident rates.