Driving law changes could see UK adopt European road rules that would impact millions of motorists

Person driving in car on road

Experts have called for tougher driving test rules

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 15/06/2024

- 10:38

Road safety experts have pointed to adopting European-style rules to protect motorists

Experts are calling for massive motoring law changes to be introduced to make driving tests more difficult in a bid to slash the number of road traffic incidents.

As part of new suggestions put forward by safety experts, motorists should be tested in dark conditions and in turbulent weather to acclimatise them to a range of conditions.

By testing learner drivers in all weather and road conditions, road safety will be improved and reduce the likelihood of collisions on the road.

Data has shown that over 70 per cent of driving test passers in Great Britain are aged between 17 and 24, with around one-fifth of accidents leading to a death or serious injury involving a young car driver.

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A learner driver

It is hoped that driving test changes will make roads safer


Once people reach the age of 23, almost 40 per cent of young British drivers will have been involved in a road crash.

To address these issues, Jake Smith, director of Absolute Reg, has called for European-style driving tests to be adopted across the UK to benefit road safety.

Many European countries require additional tests so drivers know how to drive in different conditions, including travelling at night or in particular weather conditions.

Sweden, for example, requires learner drivers to complete a compulsory drugs and narcotics course, in addition to a four-hour slippery road test, teaching them what to do if they lose control of the vehicle.

As a result of the additional measures placed on motorists, Sweden has the lowest number of fatalities per million inhabitants across all European Union nations.

Smith said: "New drivers are at a higher risk of crashing because of inexperience and the inability to spot hazards.

“Added risk factors include the fact most new drivers on Britain's roads are young people, who tend to exhibit overconfidence leading to risky behaviour behind the wheel.

“Practical driving tests should be made tougher in the UK to improve the standard of driving in new motorists and ultimately reduce the number of young drivers involved in accidents."

According to data from the Department for Transport, a total of 188,179 driving tests took place in January this year, with just 88,913 people passing - a pass rate of just 47.2 per cent.

Prior to November 2023, there had not been a lower pass rate than 46.9 per cent since February 2022, when just 46.2 per cent of younger people passed their test. More than 1.83 million tests took place across 2023.

Smith concluded: "Driving tests vary worldwide, but it is clear that those with better driving education have reduced traffic crashes and safer roads.

“We believe driving tests should include mandatory tests for driving in dark conditions and turbulent weather conditions so new motorists are prepared for everything when they are driving independently."


Driver ripping up learner plate

Laws were changed in 2018 to allow learner drivers to practice on motorways


In the UK, learner motorists can only travel on the motorway if they are accompanied by a DVSA-approved driving instructor.

This has only been the case since June 2018, with previous rules stating that drivers could only go on the motorway once they had a full licence and had passed their tests.

Experts praised these rule changes as a way for learner drivers to be more confident before passing their tests and reducing the likelihood of being involved in an accident.

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