Night time driving on the motorway

Changing the rules for young drivers

Young people in the UK should be banned from driving at night or having any alcohol in their system, according to the Association of British Drivers (ABI), and I am inclined to agree as I look back with slight horror at my early years behind the wheel.

Time for a change in the law?

According to research, one in three people who die on the UK’s roads are under the age of 25 and an 18-year-old is more than three times as likely as a 48-year-old to be involved in a crash.

With this in mind, the ABI is proposing a night time ban from 11pm to 4am with drivers made to learn for a year, but starting to learn earlier from the age of 16-and-a-half.

Read the full list of proposed restrictions here.

This follows similar and successful restrictions in Australia, New Zealand and the US. In Northern Ireland there are already similar plans underway and by April 2014 young drivers will face some of these restrictions, including having to learn for one year and limiting passengers in the first six months after passing your test.

The need for more ‘rigorous training’

It’s always surprised me how little experience you need to have before you are let loose on the road. You could feel a bit sorry for young people who, like me, grew up in the countryside and need a car to get around in the evenings; I was never a big drinker and was often the designated driver among my friends on a night out.

But more importantly, if bringing in this night time ban saves lives – surely it’s a sacrifice more than worth making. Now I am a parent I am hoping, please God, let the rules change before our daughter turns 17!

I can now see exactly why my father took me to a disused airfield for months before he let me on the road and why my mother would giggle with nerves as I drove (mild hysteria/panic) before finally deciding she just couldn’t do it anymore and handing me back to my dad for extra lessons.

I was aware at the age of 17 that you were allowed one drink when you drove, but I also remember that understanding units wasn’t always easy when comparing spirits to beer or wine.

These new reforms would mean that young people would be banned from having any alcohol in their system and I believe would help with the peer pressure of ‘just having the one’.

Memories of my early driving days

I remember it clearly; at the age of 17 years old there I was driving around in my first little car after finally passing my test on the third attempt. I had my ‘drive with Jules’ tape cassette ready with a mix-tape of songs recorded off the radio.

I owned the ‘sports cars’ of the Fiat Panda (Fiat Panda 1000 Sport) and drove it around like it was a souped-up BMW with my sunroof down and my ‘Jungle is Massiiiive’ music blaring, trying to overtake lorries at speed, but going nowhere.

I wore a hat, gloves and scarf when the heating conked out for an entire winter (with my left foot holding the stereo in place… ). It cost my dad £500 to buy and £1,500 to make roadworthy. It also cost £25 to get someone to take it to the car cemetery around five years later.

Learning to drive on the motorway

There was, and is still is, no requirement for young people to learn to drive in the dark, or on a motorway, before getting a driver’s licence. You can of course go out at night time while you’re learning, but for many young people who are in a rush to pass (one of the restrictions would also be a ban on intensive driving courses), or don’t have family to take them out, you don’t actually ‘have’ to do this.

Before you know it, your good deed of driving one of your mates home takes you onto the unknown territory of a motorway. You then face the scary prospect of trying to judge the speed of cars going past you just in order to get yourself off the slip road.

It may also be dark, and for even the most experienced of us, as I now reach my 15th year since I passed my test, it’s still easy to get disorientated when driving down dark roads and having the full blare of a car coming past you or overtaking.

Restricting the number of young passengers

Many young people go from learning in a nice quiet new car with an instructor who has their own set of brakes, to being on your own in a little banger with a clunky clutch, a group of friends all squawking and squealing in the back of the car with the window open and wind blowing cigarette smoke (or worse) around the car.

So when I learn that the insurer is also asking for restrictions on passengers for six months after people pass their test, I think, yes this is a good idea. You may have passed your test but in reality, and with no patronising intended, the real learning comes when you’re out on your own.

What are your thoughts on the proposed restrictions?




Posted in Blog, News and events.


  1. I think there should also be restrictions about people who pass their tests then don’t drive for years but still have a licence meaning they can legally drive on the roads with no reassessment or obligation to take refresher lessons. I passed and didn’t drive for 10yrs which meant i’d forgotten everything but could have legally driven on roads, motorways etc. If i hadn’t been sensible enough to take lessons again and have such an understanding girlfriend who took me out for drives then i would have been a danger to myself and everyone else!

  2. This is where I think the ‘Pass Plus’ scheme should be enforced as mandatory instead of simply a choice. And what’s not to like when as a young driver you get further discount on your car insurance policy when you have completed the course? A very useful few lessons of driving in ‘real’ environments and a benefit at the end of it.

  3. I balked at the thought of banning intense driving courses – it’s how I passed my test (luckily first time). I would not have had the money to go on a year’s worth of courses, had that been mandatory, and it would have meant me being unable to complete my university training posts (or having to beg others to give me lifts!) That being said, I am also a statistic; I have only ever had one major (ish) accident. When? Within a few months of passing my test. Under what circumstances? Driving my car into the back of a poor middle aged man whilst distracted by friends in my car, squawking over their recent graduation. The moral of the story? I might not like the proposals, but they make sense when you look at the cold hard facts. I am just grateful that no serious damage was done in my accident – well, to the people at any rate, my car was trashed! Oh – and I’m also grateful that I’m 31. Aren’t the best rules ones that don’t apply to you? Ahem.

  4. @david – yes very good point about having to refresh driving skills if this happens. @Sam I hardly know anyone who has done the pass plus test anymore but it does make sense – they could keep the current regulations then just introduce a second test before you’re able to go on the motorway, for example. As Gemma also says, the best rules may apply now we aren’t affected by them! But it does make sense in a lot of ways… thanks for your comments and happy driving!

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