Rebate Scheme for New Drivers

21st December 2015

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin called the government’s proposal “an incentive for learners to be more prepared” before taking their practical test. The plans have so far received the backing of the RAC, with other roadside assistance groups expected to follow.

The idea of having better-qualified drivers in the first instance seems appealing to many, but there is no indication as yet what the economic impact of the rebate system might be; questions have been raised over whether the money to be paid back (likely a small percentage of the current œ62 fee) will come close to covering the cost of taking extra driving lessons (at an average cost of œ20 each).

At the same time as plans are mooted to reward first-time passers, with the emphasis on younger drivers who are typically felt to be at higher risk of being involved in accidents, a petition calling for mandatory retesting for drivers aged 70 and upwards has reached close to 200,000 signatures on petition website

Started by Benjamin Brooks-Dutton, a widower who lost his wife in late 2012 due to an 85-year-old driver mistaking the accelerator pedal for the brake, the petition is addressed for the consideration of Patrick McLoughlin, the aforementioned Secretary for Transport.

Currently, any elderly driver wishing to reapply for their license has to fill in a self-assessment form, a system that many have criticised for its lack of independent review and openness to dishonesty. Supporters of the petition have noted that for an elderly driver to keep their license, they would only have to meet the requirements of the average driver, much as anyone wishing to take to Britain’s roads has to.

However, a significant amount of opposition has arisen, with many arguing that to approve any mandatory re-tests for elderly drivers is tantamount to robbing people of their freedom at an age where independence becomes more and more important. Others have noted the widely-held belief that the focus should instead be on younger drivers, whom it is felt are more prone to speeding and reckless driving.

Amidst the back-and-forth dialogue between the for and against sides, a third body of thought has emerged, recommending that all drivers undergo a mandatory re-test at specific intervals. Whilst not favoured by all, it is openly acknowledged that such a plan would ensure more accountability for drivers and a chance to eliminate bad driving habits before they develop into something much more serious.

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