A road safety charity has called on the Government to close a loophole that lets learner drivers keep their licence even after racking up multiple driving offences.
Brake wants to see a reduction in the number of penalty points a learner driver can hold before being disqualified, after an investigation found that more than 42,000 provisional licence holders are on the roads with six or more penalty points.
The data, obtained by Brake under a Freedom of Information request, revealed that, as of April 2019, 66,575 learner drivers held endorsements on their licence.
Of these, 42,883 held six or more points, 1,005 held 12 or more points and the highest number of points held by one learner driver was 35.
While learner drivers can rack up points and keep their provisional licence, new drivers face an automatic ban if they accumulate more than six points in the first two years of passing their test.
Under the New Drivers Act, drivers who get six or more penalty points within two years of getting their full licence will have it revoked and are forced to apply and pay for a new provisional licence and pass both theory and practical parts of the driving test.
Yet, rules for provisional licence holders, allow them to hold up to 11 active points on their licence while receiving no penalty.
They are also still allowed to sit the driving test and obtain a full licence. Once they have passed their test, they would only have their licence revoked if they receive further penalty points.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake said it was time for the Government to look at closing the loophole and holding learners to the same standards as newly qualified drivers.
He commented: “How can it be right that learner drivers with a track record of committing multiple driving offences are still free to obtain a full licence and drive on our roads?
“Newly qualified drivers face losing their licence if they commit multiple driving offences so surely at least the same standards should apply to learner drivers too?
“We are calling on the Government to look into this with a view to reduce the number of penalty points a learner driver can get before losing their licence and prevent them from taking a driving test with multiple points on their provisional licence.”
Common sense approach
Ian McIntosh, CEO at RED Driving School said that it was just as important for learners to heed the law as newly qualified drivers.
“Learning to drive and the process of obtaining a full licence is an empowering journey. However, it is equally important that all drivers, including those with a provisional driving licence, obey the law.
“At RED Driving School, we always advocate learning to drive with a fully qualified driving instructor, who can guide the provisional licence holder on the roads and encourage a common sense approach to road safety. We believe the risk of losing a driving licence and having to retake both the theory and practical test is a significant deterrent for committing a driving offence.
“It must be recognised that some mistakes in the learning process are to be expected. However, under proper instruction it is unlikely learner drivers would obtain the threshold of 11 points, if any at all. By no means is this a ‘penalty point loophole’, but an application of a reasonable law.”