Graduated Licence Scheme Considered by Government

new driver

A graduated licencing scheme, placing restrictions on new drivers is being considered by the Department of Transport, as reported by The Times earlier this year.

This isn’t a new idea, but has been avoided in order not to place undue restrictions on young people’s lives.

Under current schemes, new drivers in the UK are already on a two year probationary period after passing their test. Meaning it takes only 6 points, as opposed to 12, to warrant a driving ban.

The new rules could include a restriction on alcohol levels (a zero tolerance approach) for young drivers.

It could also mean a potential reduction in the number of hours a new driver could be on the road in a day. Examples include night time curfews or supervised driving in hours of darkness.

Additionally, there may be a restriction on carrying passengers as a new driver, particularly child passengers.

The graduated licence proposals are being looked at for new drivers, irrespective of age and the restrictions could last anywhere from six months to two years, according to The Times report.


Drivers between the ages of 17 and 24 are involved in a quarter of accidents on the road leading to death and serious injury, according to research. But these drivers make up only 7% of licence holders in the UK, suggesting that restrictions could alleviate some concerns and allow young drivers to gain the experience necessary.


But the idea is not without its critics.

As mentioned earlier, the idea of a graduated licence scheme has been floated for some time, but nothing has been implemented due to some concerns on the effect on new and young drivers.

Driving means freedom. Restricting driving hours severely limits the freedom of new drivers to work outside certain times. Additionally, daylight hours are so much shorter during the winter months that even normal working/educational hours could be difficult for a new driver under this regime.

Car sharing is a consideration amongst young drivers, especially in rural areas where public transport links are not good. A rule stopping them from carrying passengers would severely restrict this. And of course, young parents. Having a car is often necessary for parents with small children. A rule preventing the carrying of passengers would make it impossible for young drivers with children.

These matters will be considered by the Department of Transport as part of their proposal.


The scheme already runs successfully in other countries.

The US has it’s own graduated licence scheme, differing from State to State. In California young drivers are restricted from driving between 11pm and 5am. In New York unsupervised night time driving is allowed only if travelling to and from work. Of course, these rules can be hard to enforce.

It remains to be seen whether the idea will be adopted in this country, given the concerns highlighted above but, according to The Times report, the AA and RAC are supportive of the plans and the road safety minister, Michael Ellis is keen to explore how they can help new drivers to stay safe on the roads.