Restrictions should be imposed on young motorists because they often act as “taxi drivers for their mates”, MPs have heard.
Road safety charity Brake told the Commons Transport Select Committee that teenagers who pass their test should initially be banned from carrying passengers as they are more likely to be involved in serious crashes.
Chief executive Mary Williams said: “Teen drives are basically free commercial taxi drivers and this is the truth that contributes to the high casualty rates caused by young drivers who are also killing vulnerable road users outside vehicles.
“If we consider young drivers as taxi drivers for their mates, then we need to consider them… as occupational drivers.
“Then we start to think sensibly about a phased driver licensing system, in the same context that, for example, many of the fleet supporters of Brake do when they are training, evaluating and monitoring their novice and young commercial vehicle drivers.”
Introducing restrictions on young drivers would prevent them from being pressured into giving lifts to friends as “it’s simply a matter of saying it’s against the law”, according to Ms Williams.
“It’s giving young people that power to be safe and to protect the lives of other young people.”
Elizabeth Box, head of research at the RAC Foundation, said the develop of young people’s brains and hormones mean they are “more likely to take risks, and that is exacerbated by their peers”.
They find it “very difficult to regulate their behaviours” in situations such as driving a car while carrying their friends, she said.
“The real plea here is for us to develop interventions that are based on the brains that young people have, rather than the ones that we would hope that they would have.”
Committee chairman Huw Merriman said young people account for 21% of car drivers killed or seriously injured, despite making up just 7% of licence holders.
The only special treatment for new drivers is they lose their licence if they receive six penalty points within the first two years, rather than the standard 12 points.
In addition to banning the carriage of passengers for a set period, graduated driving licences could also involve curfews, lower alcohol limits and mandatory “P” plates.
These types of schemes are used in several countries, including the US, Canada, Australia and Sweden.
Dr Neale Kinnear, head of behavioural science at the Transport Research Laboratory, told the committee that if graduated licences had been brought in following a Department for Transport-commissioned review in 2013, 122 fatalities could have been prevented by 2018.
He said: “This really is a public health thing. It’s not just about an individual driver that we’re looking to try and prevent doing something bad. It’s actually protecting everyone that’s using the roads.”