LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Newly qualified drivers should face restrictions such as being banned from driving at night to help cut down on a growing number of crashes involving young motorists, British researchers said on Tuesday.
A graduated driver licensing (GDL) scheme could save up to 200 lives a year and avoid 14,000 casualties saving Britain 890 million pounds in the process as well, researchers from Cardiff University in Wales said.
"Most people in this country know someone who has been touched by the death or injury of a young driver," said Sarah Jones who carried out the study.
"GDL works in other countries and there's no good reason why it wouldn't work here."
While road traffic accidents in Britain are declining, crashes involving young drivers are increasing. Every day four people are killed or seriously injured in accidents involving young motorists, the study said.
The GDL scheme is designed to allow newly qualified drivers to gain experience while imposing certain conditions over an interim phase which could last as long as two years.
During this time, drivers might be banned from driving at night or with similar aged passengers, while drinking any alcohol would be forbidden.
Similar schemes exist in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The study said GDL had led to a 28 percent reduction in fatal or severe injury crash rates in California and a 40 percent decrease in teenage passenger deaths and injuries.
Motoring organizations said the scheme would be hard to implement and enforce, and could penalize those who needed to work at night
"It would give totally the wrong signals to introduce new laws aimed at young people and then not enforce them -- many would feel that all motoring laws could be broken," Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, told the BBC.
The research on GDL which will be presented to the World Safety Conference in London, which also heard warnings from campaigners about the dangers of listening to music on headphones and texting on mobile phones.
The Tune Into Traffic campaign has produced an advert warning young people not to be distracted when crossing streets.
"Young people up to the age of 25 are especially vulnerable because the hazard perception part of their brain is underdeveloped," said Manpreet Darroch from the campaign.
"This is of particular importance as the usage of iPods and MP3 players has significantly increased and young people's lives are being destroyed unnecessarily."
Reporting by Michael Holden, editing by Paul Casciato