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