A senior driving instructor says proposals to increase the driving age to 18 would be “harsh” on some young drivers.
The Government plans would see teenagers wait until they are 18 to take their driving test - a year later than the current qualifying age - and log 120 hours of supervised practice, including 20 at night.
The plans were drawn up by TRL, formerly the Government’s transport research laboratory, and are intended to cut the number of people killed and injured in accidents involving novice drivers.
Terry Godbert, group chairman of Blackpool and Fylde Advanced Motorists, said: “Although they want to change it to 18 there are some good young drivers out there who obey the rules on the roads, it’s the other few who drive like idiots and spoil it for everyone else. It can be a good idea but it’s also harsh on some 17-year-olds and they will have to be driving for 12 months before taking the test, making lessons quite expensive.”
Last year, there were 16 serious accidents involving 16 to 25-year-olds in Blackpool. These figures are up from 2011 when there were 14 serious accidents and one fatal accident.
The Department for Transport classes a serious accident as: “One in which at least one person is seriously injured (detained in hospital) but no other person is killed.”
Darren Lowe, an expert Road Traffic Accident solicitor at Blackpool-based BBE Law, said: “I believe making drivers wait until they are a little bit older is the right thing to do.
“We should not be exposing them to undue risk at the stage of their driving careers where they are most vulnerable.”
Youngsters at Carr Hill High School and Sixth Form Centre, on Royal Avenue, Kirkham, have also given their thoughts on the proposals.
Adam Saleh, 17, head boy at sixth form, is learning to drive. He said: “It contradicts what the Government is saying in some ways because making it harder for younger people to drive independently limits their ability to go to certain schools, universities, and sports clubs.”
Dale Beck, 17, added: “Doing all of these extra hours and extra lessons will just be way too expensive.
“Driving costs enough as it is without making it even harder for potential learners.”
And Ellie Butterworth, 17, added: “At 18 there should be no more restrictions – they are adults and should have the freedom to drive without constraints.”