The driving test and the way people are taught to drive should be overhauled, the government said today.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has unveiled a raft of proposals aimed at tackling the accident rate among young drivers.
As many as 20% of people have an accident within six months of passing the test and a further 70% report near-misses in the same period.
Up to 20% have an accident within six months of passing their test
The government plans include an improved driving test which will require candidates to demonstrate a clear understanding of different challenges.
There would also be a star-rating system for instructors which would give learners an informed choice based on pass rates.
The proposals will now be consulted on and could come into effect within three years.
They also include a foundation course in safe road use for under-17s, which would lead to a qualification for those who passed.
The foundation course would cover the Highway Code, planning journeys, social attitude, peer pressure, fatigue, being safe on the road, and eco-driving.
The driving test will also be revised to place less emphasis on mechanical manoeuvres. For example drivers could be asked to find their way to a specific point during the test.
Road deaths and serious injuries have fallen by 33% since the mid-1990s, but the casualty rate for young drivers has not changed.
Ruth Kelly said: ‘Every year more than 750,000 people pass their driving test. New drivers are keen to gain the freedom driving offers them to access further education, jobs or keep in touch with family and friends.
‘But too many new drivers are involved in road accidents and are not properly prepared for driving alone.’
She added: ‘It is time for a new approach to learning to drive. We must make sure that novice drivers are safe drivers when they have passed their test. We must also create an expectation of lifelong learning, so that people continue advance learning after their test.’