The Department for Transport has unveiled a host of measures designed to improve road safety across Britain. The plans aim to assist learner drivers and punish dangerous drivers. The proposals form part of the Government's Road Safety Plan which is subject to consultation later this year. These proposals are set out below.

Use of Mobile Telephones When Driving

The Government is planning on introducing tougher penalties for drivers caught using their mobile telephone when driving. The proposal is to increase the amount payable under a fixed penalty notice from £100 to £150. In addition, the plans include increasing the number of penalty points to be endorsed on a driver's driving licence, from three to four points. Drivers of larger vehicles and HGVs will receive 6 penalty points under these proposals due to the fact that any accident they are involved in is likely to be much more serious.

The plans do, however, allow for a first time offender to be offered an educational course as an alternative to receiving a fine and penalty points. The plans are primarily focused, therefore, towards drivers that continue to use their mobile telephone whilst at the wheel.

Learner Drivers

For the first time, learner drivers will be offered the opportunity to experience motorway driving prior to passing their driving tests. The proposals would allow learner drivers to take a motorway driving lesson with an approved instructor, in a dual controlled vehicle.

Impaired Drivers

The Government intends to provide a grant of £750,000 to Police forces throughout England and Wales to ensure greater numbers of police officers are provided with drug recognition and impairment testing equipment. It is suggested that this will allow for a more targeted approach to enforcement, resulting in the removal of a greater number of dangerous drivers from UK roads.

Cycle Training

A grant of £50 million over the next 4 years is expected to support cycle training in schools. The funding aims to increase road awareness and encourage children to be healthy and active.

Changes to Compulsory Basic Training (CBT)

The CBT for learner motorcyclists is set to be amended with suggestions including the introduction of a theory test to ensure a better understanding of the Highway Code.

Currently, a rider who completes the CBT on an automatic motorcycle would also be authorised to ride a manual 125cc motorcycle. The proposals state that those riders completing the CBT on an automatic motorcycle should be restricted to riding only automatic bikes, as with cars.

Other suggestions include extending the length of the CBT which currently lasts only one day, and reducing the length of time the CBT certificate is valid, from two years to one.

What is the purpose of these proposals?

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin explained:

"Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we are always looking to improve that record. Today we are delivering common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with practical steps to help youngsters and other more vulnerable groups stay safe on our roads."

We await announcement of the consultations on these proposals, following which a further update will follow.