Sunday, December 30, 2007

Will the Tories support the Government on driving license changes in 2008?

The "War on Motorists" is obviously a nice and easy Daily Mailism, but isn't it rather odd and ironic that it is the Daily Mail that is leading the charge of raising the driving age limit to 18 for full licenses along with a formal requirement for hours behind the wheel under tuition before being allowed to get a full license?

You may or may not have heard about this, but essentially there are talks going on about making it a requirement that new drivers have up to 500 hours of tuition before being "let loose" so to speak on the roads. This is obviously being done in the name of safety, which makes it doubly ironic given the Daily Mail also loves a "'elf n safety gone mad" story too.

The thing is, if as is being suggested the Government does indeed go for such an idea, how will they square it with their claim to want to help the working classes, or what we now call "hard working families"? After all, an hours driving tuition costs around £30. Who can afford £15,000 to get a driving license? Without wishing to sound all Blairite, but that sounds like a policy that benefits only the few and not the many.

Actually it doesn't benefit the many, it positively discriminates against almost the whole country. Of course, in "joined-up thinking" terms it's a brilliant way of reducing the number of cars on the road and the consequent environmental policy targets around CO2 emissions. But wouldn't it be terribly cynical of me to think that such a consideration had been made?

When you add on top of this plans from the EU to try and regulate cars based on emissions as well, you have, in effect, the potential death of the second hand car market, along with the death of car ownership amongst the masses. The masses will not be able to afford to buy a new "legal emission car" whilst at the same time not being able to afford to get their kids a driving license either.

Again I come back to my cynicism that such a plan is being touted, and seriously considered in the name of safety whilst actually it's knock on benefits in terms of other policy areas are the real driving force behind the move (no pun intended). It will be interesting to see where this goes in 2008 and what position the Tory Party take on it.

I have often talked with local politicos about how the key to the Tories winning is to tap back into the "working class tory vote" that brought Thatcher to power and kept her there for so long. Opposing changes to the driving license regime that will price the majority of ordinary people off the road would be one way of appealing to that voting demographic once more.


Mostly Ordinary said...

If you have the log hours does that mean you can only learn to drive via. a formal school?

Anonymous said...

This sounds like the HIPs fiasco again,thousands of well paid non jobs sitting in passenger seats watching the world collapse and voting labour.
This would surely be a disaster think transport costs and loss of revenue for insurance companies and road fund tax et al .
No more taxis,ice cream vans,hotdogs who could afford £15000 on top of a house and buying a car.Sounds like a minister on absinthe.

Anonymous said...

I tend to think that the age limit for most things should be raised to 18. I think there are huge discrepancies in what 16-18 years old can and cannot do. It needs to be sorted out.

18 seems the right age for most things. Especially education. I think everyone should remain in education (whether vocational or academic) until they are 18. It seems Dickensian to allow kids to leave school at 16 with no plans, no job, no skills, no qualifications, a poor education, few social skills etc. etc.

Newmania said...

"working class tory vote"

Depends what you call the "Working classes" the property owning classes were the beginning and end for Thatcher which is why interest rates were so crucial . In the 60s there was a serious plan to ration the number of cars on the road by the way , it was reported in the New Statesman.. I have it somewhere
I think the illiberal classes have entirely misread this point as we saw when the “prat “who launched the road pricing petition lit the blue touch paper accidentaly . As with IHT what they do not see is that improvements in life that polticians unceasingly congratulate themsleves for have been mostly illusory. In the 1930s a newly qualified clerk could buy a large house in a good area with a bit of overtime earn as much as an international footballer ( ok that’s a bit of an oddity but true ). What exactly has all this progress got for the ordinary man from the end of the Vocitorian period onwards . Capital in property and travel are actually the two key gains and messing around with either is attacking what for many was the whole point.

The way to reconnect with the “Angels in Marble “ is by showing the way is clear to move on and education is important . It is shame therefore that some of the Conservative Party could not see that ditching Secondary Moderns as a Policy objective is a must to establish a stable basis for a government if we are to continue to include the Celtic fringe .
UI do not see any point in competing with the BNP for the idle-class nationalist vote

kinglear said...

I don't believe the age and requirement for a certain number of hours make any difference. Most of the people who actually bother to sit their test end up as reasonable law abiding drivers - as opposed to the tens of thousands who never bother, don't have insurance and generally muck it up for the rest of us. What I WOULD like to see is mandatory jail sentences for driving without insurance, a ten year ban on driving without a licence - and jail for the second such offence.
Oh, and crush the cars that aren't licenced as well. The police in Glasgow had a crack down about a year ago. They imombilized about 60 cars in one area. They found 75% had no insurance and no licence - and no road tax or MOT.They gave everyone 14 days to sort it - but only 12 of the 40 odd cars made it and the rest were crushed. I'm told compliance in Glasgow has leapt.

Mrs Smallprint said...

This is a mad idea. I live in deepest darkest Somerset. Kids who can't drive can't get jobs. Our bus services are infrequent and hugely expensive. This isn't a lifestyle choice for us. One of the Labour party's hobby horses is affordable housing in villages - what's the point of building it if young families are priced off the roads.

Anonymous said...

Presumably there has been lobbying from the driving schools (or donations to the Labour Party?).

It sounds as if it is going the same way as the MOT Test - manufacturers of door handles lobby about how important it is to check car door handles on the MOT, it is added to the list of things to check in the name of safety and their sales increase. (Purely fictitious example of course).

Anonymous said...

Surely 500 hours is a mistake? Is there an extra zero on the figure?

Many people might have an hour instruction every week, that would take ten years?

If they went on a full-time driving course then it would be 10 weeks.

I suppose it would help unemployment as so many driving instructors would be needed!

Anonymous said...

Labour's poll revival has continued with a new survey showing they have closed the gap from 13 points to five in a fortnight. The driving thing, don't drive and don't care. The poll thing, do care and I do like. Hope you post it Dizzy,you seem like a fair minded kind of a fellow. Then that bore of your blog Mitch, could post one of his tedious comments.

anthonynorth said...

I find it amazing how sensible problems on safety and emissions are turned into nightmares by politicians.
Please, can someone tell me where to find politicians with commonsense nowadays?

Anonymous said...


Why do you spell "licence" with an "s"? It's a noun.

Old BE said...

This sounds like a stricter scheme than they have in Germany where they must pre-pay for an entire course of lessons before they get their provisional licence. Of course if they are good drivers they won't need the later lessons but they must take them anyway. It's yet further encroachment into our daily lives by the state so I hope the Tories oppose it.

Of course we would like to see ever safer roads, but it's worth pointing out that the Brits are generally quite good drivers compared with many European countries already.

Anonymous said...

Theresa Villiers (Shadow Transport Secretary) has recently lashed out against Councils who have seen soaring numbers of parking tickets issued. Here's hoping that she will pick this issue up too and run hard with it.

Surely the Government should be advocating tougher testing or a harsher probationary period for new drivers than pointless 500 hours clunking fist approach. I suspect that after the 500 hours those good responsible drivers will still be the same, but the irresponsible drivers the government says it wants to target will still pass the test as currently.

Anonymous said...

Mostly Ordinary: It sounds like it, doesn't it?

This urge to interfere and boss others around while taking financial advantage of them is so English.

I got my driver's licence when I was living in Texas. The way it works is, you go out with a friend a few times, go to a quiet street and practice parking a few times, then drive out to the Highway Department's facility and take a number. While you're waiting, you fill in a form and turn it in. When your number comes up, you go out to your car, a Texas Highway Patrol officer gets in with you and you drive around their facility. He says, "When I raise my hand, slam on the brakes as fast as you can." I slammed on my brakes so fast he shot off the seat and landed on his knees.

Anyway, although I passed on braking, I failed on parallel parking. I asked the lady behind the counter if I could come back in the afternoon and she said 'Of course not!" So I said, well, when can I come back? And she said, "Tomorrow morning." So I did and I passed.

Making such a giant issue of it in Britain is obscene. Texas is a vast state, and in some remote areas with no transport at all, they give licenses to 14 year old kids who need to drive to school.

Driving is not a big deal.

Anonymous said...

They cannot be serious!! but I hope they are as it's a sure fire vote loser on top of all the other sure fire vote losers they have come up with recently

Richard Elliot said...

£15,000 to learn to drive, there is no way anyone in their right minds can support that!!

I passed my test recently enough to remember that 17 year olds can be a bit crazy behind the wheel when they first pass. But there must be better ways to improve road safety?

Anonymous said...

Hmm .. be far far cheaper for everyone to get a pilot's license ...Need only 45 hours for one of those and they do not cost 10 times as much per hour as driving lessons ....

Anonymous said...

£30 an hour? Not up in the North East, more like £15. Maybe this is an attempt at social enginering?

Or will there be a flood of instructors undercutting each other, as the free market principle allows?

Since driving tests vary within the EU, would it be legal to get your licence from one of the Eazy-Test countries, and convert it in the UK? Just a thought.

zoomraker said...

sounds like political suicide, there was an artical on political betting arguing that the marginal constituencies were mainly the small towns.

These are the places people are most dependant on the car.

dizzy said...

license versus licence - can never remember which is right, simple as that, plus I'm dyslexic.

Re: polls, I don't really do them. If you have a look back through the archives you will find hardly any mention of them specifically when they come out. Political Betting is the place for that.

Anonymous said...

Who's going to learn to drive with those sorts of costs involved? Cue thousands more illegal drivers, the death of social mobility, more young people on life's scrapheap because they can't get a job because they can't get a car and vice versa. This will be a nightmare for many.

dizzy said...

Have added a link to the Daily Mail. Bizarrely they say learners do 100 hours already before taking the test. That can't be right surely?

Battersea Boy said...

Yet another silly idea from an increasingly authoritarian Government.


(a) the driving test should be the sole method of determining a person's standard of driving;

(b) separating theory and practical testing should be abandoned: the examiner should be able to take a holistic view of the individual's capablilities;

(c) the driving age should be lowered, perhaps to 15 or even 14 years of age;

(d) every effort should be made to ensure that third-party insurance is affordable. It is ridiculous that a newly-qualified driver may have to pay well over £500 to insure a low-end car (and have a compulsory excess of £250) yet face penalties of less than £100 if caught driving without insurance.

Graham Smith

Anonymous said...

food for thought:

One in eight driving-licence holders is under 25, yet one in three drivers who dies in a collision is under 25, and almost one in two drivers killed at night is under 25.

Young drivers in fatal collisions, especially under 20, are nearly 12 times more likely to have been at fault than those aged 35-65.

Anonymous said...

Look at these government stats

Looks like a relentless decline over the years to the point where diminishing returns has bitten hard. Speed cameras don't appear to have made much of a difference.

Using the roads has never and never can be totally risk free.

Now given the choice between dealing with a non-problem - road deaths - and a real and increasing problem - hospital infections, guess which one they pick.

dizzy said...

Re: Canvas and "food for thought"
That is called correlation not causality.

Anonymous said...

Dizzy, perhaps a casual relationship exists? dunno...


Anonymous said...

Opposing this mad scheme, if as described, would certainly help the Tories with the yoof vote, which is mostly Socialist I think at the moment. 17-year-olds can't vote (yet), but people often carry political convictions formed in their teenage years for decades.

Anonymous said...

Drivers under 25 certainly have more accidents than older drivers but isn't that partly because of lack of experience.

If you raised the age for a licence to 30 then there would probably be more accidents in under 35's for the same reason, inexperience.

dizzy said...

canvas, the key word is "perhaps", it's pure correlated conjecture. You could equally find that someone between the age of 31 and 34 is seven times more likely to be shit on by a seagull with a bowel condition. It does not therefore follow the seagulls with bowel conditions prefer to shit on 31 to 34 year olds.

Anonymous said...

that certainly is food for thought! LoL eeewwww.
a seagull with a bowel condition?!

But I get it...understood.

AVI said...

Canvas - interesting stats, but of the young drivers involved in collisions, what %age are licence holders?

Newmania said...

I think we probably all know the difference between a cause and correlation but a correlation is certainly evidence to used in establishing causal link in that its absence would be fatal to the argument.
Cause is in any case an altogether more slippery concept with the behaviour of people than the behaviour of , for example , computers. Proximate cause introduces the idea of a weakening connection between events and circumstances and is used in law . Poverty does not cause crime but less poverty would reduce crime no doubt. Multidimensional realities do not allow a simple immovable moving "Cause". I have no doubt it would be simplicity itself to prove young men adopt riskier strategies tha n older drivers , I did , and while you will say this is anecdotal there are a hell of a lot of anecdotes .Where correlation is weak is where there are other co-related causal controls .Famously the number of churches increased in the West proportionally with the number of Saloons the cause being simply population. This does not apply with young drivers .

Overall I think individual freedom is a better defence than effectiveness .It would , after all save untold lives to restrict us all to our homes or bann , running on the pavement …well in fact it would not but you know what I mean …I hope

Anonymous said...

I've checked the DVLA site regarding driving with an EU licence:

14a Coming from the European Community
or European Economic Area
(The EEA includes all EC countries plus Liechtenstein,
Iceland and Norway.)

If you have a valid full licence issued by any EC/EEA
country you do not need to immediately exchange it for
a GB licence. As long as your EC or EEA licence is valid
you can drive in Great Britain until you are 70 or for
three years after moving here, whichever is longer.

An angle for some enterprising tour op and a co-operative nation beckons.

dreamingspire said...

By 1976 the Oxford dictionary had included the alternative spelling 'license' but annotated it as chiefly used in North America. I have even seen the UK public sector use that spelling, which suggests that, as with other American spelling, the EC mandarins use it (note that many technical standards in Europe are in English - sorry, American - I have written some EC pre-standards, but not in this field, and try to be entirely English).

Anonymous said...

As a trivial point, I think you will find that the "100 hours" that learners already do before passing their test includes supervised practice in between formal lessons.

But more to the point, if this is to introduce a gold plated version of the German system here, I wonder if there is a "voluntary agreement" here? You know the sort of thing that is happening with blood alcohol limits, where the national EU government instructs its vassal regions to introduce laws that comply with its wishes, or it will produce the necessary Directives to force them to.

I wonder ...

Anonymous said...

Britain has become a nanny/surviellance state. Why do the public have no rights in opposing such stupid measures? We are just told what to do, and have to do it. The government are just a bunch of little hitlers.

Anonymous said...

they've been talking about this for years and nothing has seemed to happen they shouldnt do it. The thing is that what will happen to the peope whos test will be in like a couple of months and you change it what will happen????

but i think they should keep the driving age as it is as im 17 and waiting for me to be able to take my test :) so dont change it its just dumb beaucse people are going to act the same no matter if they are 17,18,19. i know loads of poeple who started driving when they were 18 and 19 and they were just stuiped behind a wheel they almost caused so many accidents !!!!