Motor school boss blasts crackdown on the young

Driving instructor Patrick Caulwell
Driving instructor Patrick Caulwell

PROPOSALS to change regulations for rookie drivers have been described as “making allowances for idiots” by a Wigan driving school owner.

A recent Government-commissioned report that recommends teens should not be allowed to take their driving test until they are 18 has been welcomed by road safety groups.

But Pat Caulwell, of Gidlow Motoring School, said the recommendations would be punishing the majority of young drivers because of the irresponsible actions of the few.

He said: “It is the same old story. The majority of young drivers pass their test and are more than capable of driving responsibly.

“The ones who do it properly are being punished for the small percentage who do not.”

The proposals recommend that 17-year-olds have a 12-month “learner stage” with a requirement for at least 100 hours of day-time and 20 hours of night-time supervised practice.

Newly passed drivers would then have a probationary licence and would have to display a green “P” plate.

A night-time driving curfew and a ban on carrying passengers under the age of 30 are also mooted.

Mr Caulwell said: “Changing the age to 18 is an excuse to bring us in line with law in other countries.

“And the night-time driving plan punishes young people who may work evening shifts.

“Very few young people can afford to get a car on the road these days and then those who have jobs to pay off the costs will be hit.”

The report, compiled by transport research group TRL, said one fifth of deaths on Britain’s roads in 2011 involved drivers aged 17 to 24.

It estimates that their graduated licensing system would result in annual savings of 4,471 casualties and costs of £224m.

Mr Caulwell countered that young drivers should have limits to the vehicles they are allowed to drive and perhaps should have them restricted to 40mph.

He agreed with one part of the proposals though that advised a ban on any mobile phone use including hands-free kits.

He added: “Drivers of all ages should switch their phones off when they get in a car. They are too much of a distraction.”

Motoring groups welcomed many aspects of the TFL report which will now be considered by the government.

Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Young people are four times more likely to die in a road accident than as a result of drink or drugs. Yet as a society we seem to turn a blind eye to the carnage. If this was any other area of public health there would be an outcry.”

AA president Edmund King said: “There are many proposals in the report with merit and which are advocated by the AA. Road safety on the national curriculum is something we have long campaigned for, I am pleased to see it being recommended here.

“Likewise we would also support learner drivers being allowed on motorways with their instructor.”