PLANS to increase the legal driving age to North Devon have been greeted with a mixed reaction from North Devon motorists.
In an attempt to cut the number of crashes involving young drivers, the Government has announced plans to increase the legal age to take a driving test from 17 to 18.
New drivers could also face a curfew between 10pm and 5am unless a passenger aged over 30 is in the car.
Ministers are due to publish proposals in a Green Paper following a report by the Transport Research Laboratory.
If the proposals are successful, learner drivers will still be granted provisional licences at the age of 17, but they will have to complete a 12-month learner stage.
During this stage they would need to have 100 hours of supervised daylight practice and 20 hours after dark.
It’s an approach which has divided motorists in North Devon. In a poll on the Journal website, 67 per cent of people said the driving age should be increased.
Colin Butlin said the driving test should be made more difficult.
He said: “There are loads of people on the road who don’t know how to control a car if it gets away from them. Car control is a huge factor.”
However, others disagreed with the plans and said rules should be brought in to test older drivers.
Thomas Thatcher said drivers over 60 should take a retest every five years to “make sure they are up to date with the latest way of driving” and that their “reaction time is good enough”.
He said: “Anyone who objects to this is obviously not confident in their driving ability and shouldn’t be on the road.”
Hannah Mason also felt elderly drivers should be considered in the Government proposals.
She said: “I have seen more incidents involving older people than younger ones so I think it’s about time the younger ones had a break and they start clamping down on older drivers.”
Pam Day said the current system could be revised.
She said: “People still have to work when they are 17 and may need a car to get to work. Instead, limit engine size to 999cc until the age of 25 and make a black box obligatory for monitoring driving for insurance purposes.”
AS part of the plans, drivers under the age of 30 could also be banned from carrying any passengers who are also aged under 30.
Other proposals put forward include a ban on all mobile phone use, including hands-free phones, and suggestions to lower the legal alcohol limit.
Driving instructor Paul Greatbatch, of North Devon-based company DriveJuice, said the system needed to change to help cut the number of fatalities on the roads.
He said: “Young drivers drive around five per cent of all the miles driven in Britain, but are involved in about 20 per cent of the crashes where someone is killed or seriously injured so it is clear that the current system needs to change.
“I feel that more emphasis is needed on developing the right attitudes and skills rather than focusing on just passing a test.
“However, restrictions on the number and age of passengers or a night time curfew could be extremely difficult to enforce especially in rural areas.”
He also said having a set number of hours training before taking a driving test and having to display green P plates for a year could help younger drivers.
Currently drivers in England, Scotland and Wales need to pass a theory test, then a practical test before they can apply for a full driving licence.