Graduated driver licensing

The UK could introduce Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), this would totally change the way we learn to drive

Why does the UK need a Graduated Driver licensing scheme?

The proposed UK Graduated Driver Licensing Bill is being considered by parliament (click here for current status).

The GDL Scheme would reduce road accidents amongst young drivers and have extreme changes to all learner drivers.

USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have all introduced Graduated Driver Licensing schemes, which, have significantly reduced the number of road accidents and deaths amongst young drivers.

The key proposals included in the Graduated Driving Licence Scheme Bill 2013 -2014 are as follows

1 – Age to take the test goes up to 18

At present, you can apply for a provisional driving licence three months prior to your 17th birthday and can take the driving test within weeks.

With the proposed GDL scheme drivers would still be able to get a provisional driving licence at 17, but would not be able to take the driving test until they are 18.

2 – 12 month supervision period before the driving test

The average amount of time taken to pass the driving test is about 40 hours of lessons from an approved driving instructor with a further 20 hours of practice with family or friends. (DVSA)

Under the proposed Graduate Driver Licensing program, there would be a statutory process for learning to drive. A 12-month stage that can begin at age 17 will include a minimum of 120 hours of daytime supervised practice as well as 20 hours night-time. This could be a mix between driving lessons from an approved instructor and practicing with parents or friends using a mandatory logbook.

3 – A Probationary Licence after passing the test

Under the existing DVSA learning to drive system once you pass the driving test, your provisional driving licence is exchanged to a full licence, and you are free to drive on the road without any restrictions. There are a couple of advisories such as Pass Plus for extra driving experience and to display P plates on your car, but neither of these are compulsory.

With the Graduated Driver Licensing scheme after the driving test is passed, your provisional driving licence is upgraded to a Probationary 12-month Licence and the following would apply:

  • Display of the Pass Plates would be compulsory.
  • A night-time driving curfew in force between 10:00 pm and 5:00 am, unless accompanied by a passenger aged 30 plus.
  • A ban on drivers under the age of 30 from carrying any passengers who are under the age of thirty, there are too many accidents caused by younger passengers.
  • Mobile phones would have a total ban including hands-free while driving. See the present requirements for use of phones in cars.
  • A new lower alcohol limit than currently for young drivers. See current drink driving law.

Drivers would automatically graduate to a full licence and unrestricted driving at the end of the of the 12-month probationary period.


Young drivers are massively over-represented in road death and serious injury statistics.

Young drivers support the idea of GDl with 41% in favour v 31% against the proposals. (RAC Foundation survey published June 2014).

According to the Road Charity “Brake” the introduction of a UK Graduated Driving Licence Scheme is overdue.

A graduated driver licensing system works in other countries, and it can work here.

Edited 12 July 2015
The Graduated Driving Licence Scheme Bill 2013 2014 failed to complete its passage before the end of the session, This Bill will make no further progress.

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