Year-long driving test and more expensive cars? Coming to a UK near you...

mercedes carLots of people have cars. So we thought you might like to find out about some topical car stuff. We never stop giving.

First of all, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) would like potential drivers to go through a year-long driving test. Of course they don’t mean you have to spend twelve long months cooped up in a Vauxhall Nova with a bespectacled man wielding a clipboard (we don’t think); rather that you don’t get full driving privileges until at least 12 months after passing the traditional test. New drivers are already subject to a two year probation, where they cannot get more than 6 points on their licence, but other measures the ABI would like to see introduced include:

A ban on learners being able to take an intensive driving course as their only method of passing

The introduction of a new "graduated" licence for the first six months after passing a test

During this time the number of young passengers that a newly-qualified driver could carry would be restricted

New drivers would also be banned from driving between 11:00pm and 4:00am for the first six months, unless they were driving to and from work or college

No blood alcohol at all would be permitted during those first six months

However, they would let younger drivers start learning earlier, at the age of 16 and a half. The reason behind all this meddling is one of safety*- 17- 24 year olds comprise one in eight drivers on the roads, but a third of those killed on the roads are under 25.

Even assuming the yoof of today can get through a marathon driving test, the cost of actually driving their own car  is likely to be prohibitive- with estimates of around £5,000 a year once insurance and car tax is taken into account.

But a new report by think-tank CentreForum thinks we should do away with road tax altogether. Revenues from the erroneously named road tax (it is actually vehicle excise duty) are falling as car maunfacturers produce lower-polluting cars which qualify for lower levels of duty. Cars emitting less than 94g/km currently pay no VED.

Unfortunately, the proposed death of road tax is not without a successor. The report, drawn up by (newly appointed) government adviser Tim Leunig suggests that instead, a one-off charge of £50 for every gram of CO2 a car produces over a pre-set point is levied when the car is first sold.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unless you are thinking of buying a new Aston Martin where this charge could be as much as £23,000. A real-world example would give an increase in the price of a 1.25 litre Ford Fiesta from £9,084 to £10,734, but  a reduction in the price of the 1.6 litre diesel version, falling from £11,845 to £11,495. The eagle-eyed among you may notice that the price increase is considerably more than the reduction. It’s probably just a coincidence.

Unsurprisingly, the plans would hit those who buy larger vehicles hardest, as the most-polluting cars would attract the highest extra price tag. However, similar cars that currently have similar prices could experience some turbulence under the new rules. Mr Leunig cites Ford and Chrysler people-carriers, currently both on sale for around £28,000. Under the new scheme, the Chrysler would be £3,950 more expensive than the Ford, owing to its considerably higher emissions.

Of course, this is just a report, and it doesn’t mean anything. However, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey is said to have “welcomed” the report, and the Deprtment for Transport are reportedly considering measures to replace VED. So don’t say we didn’t warn you.

*and possibly saving insurance companies money.


  • Terry
    The no alcohol in the blood is unfair. You can drink, and 2 days later still have a reading.
  • PlatinumPlatypus
    Get your facts right! The Band A boundary is 100g/km not 94. Abolishing VED will eliminate any incentive to purchase lower-emitting used cars. But it will eliminate the 'I pay road tax' mentality some motorists have towards vulnerable road users.
  • Jelly W.
    The proposed change to road tax would just mean Lord Flashtwat would buy his Aston Martin on the continent cheaper. And get his butler to ferry it back here to drive on UK roads without paying any sort of duty/tax for the privilege. Another thumbs up for the Bullingdon Club boys, eh wot? 'Epic Fail' is what I think the young oaks of today would say.
  • Jelly W.
    OAKS = OIKS Damned tixt cirrekshun.
  • Alexis
    Road tax is fundamentally unfair. It should be charged on a) the amount of miles you do, or b) the ability you have to pay. The only practical way to get a figure on how many miles is the amount of fuel purchased. The average person buys 1200 litres of fuel a year. Adding about 12 pence to the cost of petrol duty would be roughly the same as charging £144 a year road tax. If you drive more than 10,000 miles a year you would pay more, if you drove less you'd save.
  • Zleet
    Driving classes should be offered in schools to those in their final year anyway to drill into kids not to be boy racers. Twelve months of lessons for everyone would be prohibitively expensive and result in people spreading lessons out with weeks in between rather than days so they would be less likely to remember what they have learned. Something similar to pass plus with night driving, accident avoidance, skid control, city driving and motorway driving should be compulsory after you pass.
  • Mike
    @Alexis Why should people who drive more miles, pay more in VED (or any equivalent)? The amount of money collected from motorists is not completely reinvested in the road network, so why should the people who use it more pay extra? If that reasoning were followed through, surely cyclists, pedestrians and people in mobility scooters should also pay for using the highway??
  • Jellie W.
    I'm with Alexis ( scrap road tax but add on petrol duty ) so as to effectively collect tax per mile driven/cc of air polluted ( we even manage to collect tax off foreign drivers in the UK then ). However... Some sort of different system needs to be used for hauliers or very mobile businesses so as not to penalize them excessively and ruin their business. If there is a separate system for businesses - make sure there is no loophole for Mr. Cheatypants to register his "fun car" in the business system.
  • Alexis
    @ Mike why should people who pollute more pay more? I can't afford a fancy new car with a small turbo engine, so I'm being penalised for being poor. I'm all for taxing cyclists and pedestrian, but the low number of miles they do would make it a pointless exercise. Also good for getting some cash from foreign motorists too, as Jellie says.
  • Year-long O.
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