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Graduated licensing makes initiation tougher

By: staff

Date: Wednesday, 12. September 2007

"Hey buddy, where did you get your driver's license? In a cereal box?"

There was a time not more than a few decades ago when that insult might not have been too far off the mark. It was pretty easy to get a driver's license just about anywhere in the world. In many cases there was no test of driving ability at all. It was left up to the individual to be responsible and to gradually acquire the skills needed to manage a vehicle in traffic.

However, those days have gone. There are few places left where a test of basic driving skills is not required. Traffic is tougher these days, and, more importantly, the modern-day power of computing is making governments all over the world keenly aware of the enormous cost of automobile crashes.

The result

Driver licensing systems all around the world are getting tougher and more complicated. However, there is still huge variation in licensing requirements. There are a few countries around the world in which licensing requirements are still lax, and there are some that have had tough requirements for a long time. Notable amongst the latter are Germany and Japan.

In North America, the buzzword is "graduated" licensing-a system which restricts driving privileges at first, and then increases them as the new driver gains experience and maintains a good driving record. In most places where graduated systems are used there are tough penalties for traffic violations, and infractions will slow the licensing process.

In 1994, Canada's province of Ontario adopted one of the toughest graduated licensing systems of all; one that takes at least 20 months for new drivers to complete, and requires two on-the-road driving tests as well as a theory test. (Read Adam Daifallah's article about his experience with graduated licensing in Ontario)

The theory behind graduated driver licensing systems is simple: new drivers are at much greater risk of crashing for the first few years. This is particularly true of new young drivers, who are not only inexperienced but may have a carefree attitude toward risk taking behavior. Ideally, graduated licensing systems allow the new driver to gain experience while avoiding some of the riskiest situations. For teenagers, these risky situations include: night driving (especially late at night); driving with other teens in the car, particularly large groups of peers, and driving after drinking alcohol.

Graduated licensing systems have been introduced in several Canadian provinces, a growing number of U.S. states, Australia, and New Zealand.

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Graduated licencing is extremely annoying to me like a drag net that catches innocent victims in its wake.I had an ontario drivers licence for four years.I moved to Bc canada for another ten years experience driving while going to university.17 years of driving experience i am not a new driver but when I went back to my home province of ontario they told me because my licence in bc had expired for more than five years NONE OF MY EXPERIENCE COUNTED FOR A PEANUT.I ended up going to manitoba canada that counted my class five experience thankyou and just got my full licence after rewriting and reroad testing.Sadly enough after finding a wonderfull property I just bought in saskatchewan I thought I could just transfer over.NOPE !!!!I HAVE TO START OVER LIKE A TEENAGER AND I AM 38 years old now I am going to be stranded in the boonies of saskatchewan.EXCUSE ME THIS IS WRONG AND UNFAIR SINCE I AM PAYING FOR MISTAKES YOUNG PEOPLE MAKE THAT I HAVEN'T made nor did I ever make even as a teenager I can't get back in and stay in unless I stay in one province.If graduated licencing is for novice drivers then why are interprovincial canadian nomads like me being punished.So were all guilty of bad driving unless we can proove were good drivers.Well that being said at the very least could they keep better records interprovincially so people who are nomadic for financial reasons don't get treated like strangers to something they are familiar with.I have a perfect driving record.Why the heck isn't there national road rules instead of interprovincial rules.One giant graduated licencing system instead of mini nitpicky private provincial secrets waiting to come out and bite your heinie.

Wayne Price,

An ex UK instructor I have been in New Zealand for some 14 years instructing through the GDLS system which according to the powers that be was invented here.

Unfortuntely the driving age starts at 15 here and no compusory insurance is required, the Restricted test is of some 15 minutes in duration. Taking a defensive driving course (10 hours in lass)reduces waiting time for Full licence test 18 months down to 12, note deensive driving is taught a year after they start to drive!

Major problems here with another 5 15 year olds dying in crashes this week-end, drivers breaking their licence restrictions, this is a common problem with these youngsters continusly breaking the law, 2 weeks ago a Learner licence holder driving on his own killed him self in a 180kph crash and was out at 2 in the morning, unfortunately we seem to make these stupid young people martyrs here in NZ.

Would like to hear if other counries using the GDLS system are having the same problems.

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