Safety experts call for end to lifetime driving licences

Safety experts call for end to lifetime driving licences
Safety experts call for end to lifetime driving licences

Motorists who drive as part of their jobs should be regularly retested to improve road safety, according to a new white paper.

Driver training charity IAM Roadsmart has called for an end to lifetime licences, saying that one single hour of assessment should not be all that is required to hold a licence indefinitely.

It has suggested that a programme of regular retesting would improve driving standards and road safety.

Read more: Where you’re most and least likely to pass your driving test

Changing conditions

Tony Greenidge, IAM RoadSmart’s business development director, said that given the speed that technology and driving conditions are changing a one-off test is not enough.

He said: “Perhaps we should require people to retake their test after a certain number of years. There is a growing belief that we should.

IAM Roadsmart believes that regular reassessment could improve road safety. (Picture: Shutterstock)

“I cannot think of another single task as difficult, complex, important or as dangerous as driving on business, where quite literally, you can perform well for just an hour of your life – during the driving test – and that’s all that’s required for the next 60 years or more.

“Given the rapid changes in technology, legislation and congestion this just does not seem logical.”

Real-world scenarios

The white paper from IAM, which it must be noted provides driver training courses to businesses, added: “It is well known that the standard driving test is designed to check whether a driver’s skill meets a minimum standard, but this does not necessarily prepare drivers for real-world scenarios.

Changing technology and legislation make it essential that drivers undergo retraining, according to IAM Roadsmart. (Picture: Shutterstock)

“Indeed, the effectiveness of any training given to pass a driving test will vary depending on the age, profession and experience of the student. Furthermore, for most drivers, the driving test is the very last time their abilities are ever formally assessed.”

The IAM paper follows recent research which suggested two-thirds of drivers are in favour of regular retesting to maintain drivers’ skill levels.

A YouGov poll of motorists found that 69 per cent thought drivers should face an age-related retest.

Expensive process

Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School, agreed that more should be done to encourage regular driver assessment but cautioned against a blanket compulsory retest.

He said: “Compulsory re-testing could prove cumbersome, costly and put people off driving. Retesting just four per of current full licence holders could double the number of tests the DVSA would need to preside over each year, lengthening test waiting times and increasing costs.

“It would be far better for the underlying issue to be dealt with: namely, normalising the process of voluntary assessments or refresher courses with a qualified driving instructor.

driving lesson
RED Driving School’s Ian McIntosh says that voluntary refresher courses could be a better option than compulsory retests. (Picture: Shutterstock)

“Refresher courses should be the norm, not the exception. Road safety is not a static issue, it’s constantly evolving as conditions change. Increasing road traffic and new road laws have drastically altered the driving environment in the UK, so someone whose licence is a few decades old should seek to refresh their knowledge.

“Refresher courses are particularly important for business road users. Drivers of larger vehicles, such as vans, can pose more of a risk to cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, so regular revisiting of their driving skills through a safety assessment makes sense.”

“The message needs to get out that undertaking a refresher course is not a symptom of bad driving but should be as normal as getting a health check-up.”

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