The Scottish Government is calling on the UK Government to consider proposals for GDL, which is currently a reserved matter, or transfer powers to Scotland.

The GDL scheme aims to reduce the risk for young and novice drivers by allowing them to build up driving experience under low risk conditions.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said:

“I’m calling for the UK Government to take action on GDL without further delay. I consider that I am acting in the interests of the people of Scotland. However, should UK Ministers ultimately decide not to move forward on this issue, I would ask again that they devolve the necessary powers to Scottish Ministers.

“Young people aged 17-25 make up 10% of licence holders yet they account for 23% of drivers involved in injury road accidents over the last five years in Scotland.

"The evidence base shows that GDL remains the only young driver intervention for which there is clear and unambiguous evidence to show that it reduces the crash rate for new and young drivers. We need to make sure that any proposed GDL scheme supports young and novice drivers both in terms of safety and in reduced insurance premiums.

“One death is one too many and when there is clear evidence of an intervention which may save up to 19 lives per year on our roads in Scotland, we must pursue that opportunity.”


Notes to editors


What is Graduated Driver Licensing

  1. GDL systems seek to manage the two things that are known to reduce collision risk: exposure and post-license experience. The aim is to allow drivers to gain important driving skills under low risk conditions, before moving onto more challenging driving tasks. This allows time for drivers to mature, which is especially pertinent for very new young drivers. The aim is that young drivers will have a reduced collision risk by the time they become fully licensed.
  2. GDL systems adopt different restrictions but these might initially include restricting the number of passengers and applying a lower blood/ alcohol limit when driving. Systems can also include extending required amounts of supervised driving (not just with an Approved Driving Instructor but any licensed driver) during initial stages.
  3. Various forms of GDL are well established in other countries around the world, including the US, Australia and New Zealand. The DfT’s own evidence review, carried out last year by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), concluded that that the potential public health benefits of a GDL system for new drivers are indisputable.
  4. The Northern Ireland Executive (NIE) has a form of GDL and is currently introducing measures to amend and strengthen that system, including consideration of a 12 month minimum learning period and a restriction on passengers. The relevant legislation (the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill) is currently with the NI Executive for consideration prior to passing to the NI Assembly. Once passed to the Assembly it will take approximately one year in order for the Legislation to become enacted. Northern Ireland Ministers are aiming for the introduction of GDL in summer 2015.

A report in October 2012 from the Association of British Insurers recommended the introduction of GDL, and stated: “If the number of crashes involving young drivers decreases, the financial risk they pose to an insurer will decrease, and insurance premiums for young drivers will follow.”


Progress is being made:

  • Fewer young drivers are being killed and injured on Scotland’s roads. The number of young drivers killed has fallen by two thirds since the RSF baseline period (2004-2008). The number of young driver casualties has fallen by a third over the same period. (RRCS 2012, Table 24)
  • Numbers of young driver casualties are falling quicker than overall casualty reductions. In 2004-2008 young drivers made up 30% of driver fatalities and the proportion has now fallen to 21%. In 2004-2008, young drivers accounted for 11% of all fatalities. This proportion is now 6%. (RRCS 2012, Table 24)

But young drivers remain an issue:

  • More than one in five drivers involved in injury accidents are aged 25 or under. 24% of drivers involved in fatal accidents are aged 17-25, a fall from 27% in the 2004-2008 baseline period. 23% of all drivers involved in injury accidents are aged 17-25, a fall from 25% in the 2004-2008 baseline period. (RRCS 2012, Table 18a)
  • The casualty rate for young drivers is still high. Young drivers and riders have a casualty rate almost twice as high as for all drivers and riders and young males have a fatality rate over three times as high. (RRCS 2012, Table 34)
  • One in six casualties are young car users. Young people account for 29% of car user casualties and 18% of all casualties. (RRCS 2012, Table 32)

2012 Reported Road Casualties: Headline Figures

  • Decrease in fatalities174 people killed on Scotland's roads in 2012 - 6% fewer than in 2011 (185), 43% fewer than 2002 (304)
  • Decrease in total casualties12,676 reported casualties in total in 2012 - 1% fewer than in 2011 (12,777) and a 34% reduction on 2002 (19,275) and the lowest figure since records began
  • Decrease in child casualties: 1,164, which is 12% fewer than in 2011 (1,316) and 58% fewer than 2002 (2,745)
  • Decrease in child fatalities: 12 in 2012, 5 less than 2011 and an average of 4 over the last three years.

Contact Caroline Trainer at Press Transport Scotland on 0141 272 7195

Published 25 Mar 2014