'Worrying' jump in new drivers losing licences during probation period

Government figures show sharp increase in the number of licences revoked within first two years on the road

New drivers face tougher rules in their first two years on the road
New drivers face tougher rules in their first two years on the road

A rising number of newly qualified drivers are losing their licences during their probationary period for offences including speeding and driving without insurance.

Data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) shows a sharp rise in the number of drivers who have had their licence revoked within two years of passing their tests.

In 2018 5,401 motorists saw their licences cancelled within their first two years on the road, in 2019 that rose to 7,484, hitting 7,975 in 2020.

Being caught using a handheld phone is enough for a newly qualified driver to lose their licence immediately

The New Drivers Act, introduced in 1995, imposed tougher rules for newly qualified drivers. During a probationary two-year period after passing their test any driver who accrues six penalty points on their licence automatically loses their licence and is required to resit their theory and practical tests.

That means a single offence of using a mobile phone at the wheel or two low-level speeding offences are enough to put a new driver off the road again.

Penalty points on a provisional licence also carry across to a driver’s full licence, meaning a single offence could be enough to have their licence cancelled.

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The figures were obtained by road safety charity IAM Roadsmart and also revealed the most common offences among new motorists.

Driving without insurance was among the most common offences committed by newly qualified drivers. Since 2018 a total of 12,000 have been given penalty points for failing to produce valid insurance documents.

A further 5,500 have been given points for speeding offences. These generally carry three penalty points, although more serious offences can attract six points - enough for an instant disqualification for a new driver.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, said: “These figures paint a worrying picture. It is the responsibility of all drivers, whether they are newly qualified or more experienced behind the wheel, to drive safely and within the law at all times and to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy and insured for the purpose it is being used.”

Other significant reasons for new drivers losing their licence within their probation period include failing to provide information about who was driving the vehicle when an offence was committed, and not being in control of the vehicle - which can include incidents such as using a mobile phone while driving.

Young and newly qualified drivers are involved in a disproportionate number of accidents and, according to safety charity Brake, one in five drivers crash within their first year of driving. Research by the AA Charitable Trust has also found that young drivers are particularly at risk of a fatal crash on rural roads.