New drivers could be given zero-alcohol limits under new plans to stop accidents

Laveta Brigham

Young drivers could be given a zero-alcohol limit or told to carry fewer passengers in an attempt to reduce road collisions, MPs have suggested. A consultation launching today will explore options to reduce accidents among new drivers, including giving drivers mandatory experience on rural and urban roads. Early consultations suggest […]

Young drivers could be given a zero-alcohol limit or told to carry fewer passengers in an attempt to reduce road collisions, MPs have suggested.

A consultation launching today will explore options to reduce accidents among new drivers, including giving drivers mandatory experience on rural and urban roads.

Early consultations suggest young people would support a move to zero-alcohol limits for new drivers, but would resist being told they cannot carry a full car of passengers.

Official figures show that drivers in the youngest age group make up only seven per cent of total licence holders but represented 16 per cent of all car drivers killed and seriously injured in 2018.

An average of 3,500 people are seriously injured each year in drink driving incidents.

Huw Merriman, the chairman of Parliament’s Transport Committee, said the collisions were more common for new drivers but said it was still vital for young people’s social mobility that they can drive.

“We’re interested in the risks that young drivers face, the fact that they are more likely to be involved in collisions and also the cost to you with regard to insurance,” he said.

“Another aspect is the social mobility […] if you haven’t got a car, or use of a car, does that hold you back in terms of your ability to interact, to get work experience, to earn money and then how does that impact on your life chances?”

The Transport Committee will decide whether to adopt the recommendations, before presenting them to the Government in a report.

Drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are limited to 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, the highest limit in Europe, while drivers in Scotland are limited to 22.

A zero-alcohol limit for new drivers would reduce the risk of people driving home after one drink, after which they usually remain under the legal limit.

In a focus group held by the committee to explore the proposal, 40 per cent of young people thought the zero-alcohol limit should apply to all drivers.

Just four per cent thought the limit should not apply to new drivers.

Other policies under consideration include a “graduated driving licence,” which might allow new drivers more freedom and flexibility when driving over time.

The committee has launched a Twitter consultation of young drivers to gauge interest and support for the measures.

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