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Young drivers

About young drivers

Young drivers are a very vulnerable group, involved in high numbers of collisions on our roads: 17-25 year olds account for an eighth of the drivers on the roads, yet make up a third of drivers who die on UK roads.

Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Community Safety Service can deliver a workshop/talk to young drivers at your college or other venues. This explains why, when and where road traffic collisions occur and some of the steps we can take to stay safe. We also have demonstrations to display just how affected our reactions are when using mobile phones. For more information on this, please contact us.

Young driver's lack of experience is considered the main reason for their vulnerability. Research indicates that one in five drivers have a collision in the first year after passing their driving test.

If you have just started driving or are about to, you may also find this REV.UK Facebook page of interest, which is aimed at young and prospective drivers - it covers topics such as choosing your first car, being safe on the roads, celebrity and sport stories, and much more.

Six Points, Lose Your Licence

If you have just passed your driving test you must remember you are "on probation" for the first two years. If you clock up six or more penalty points during that time you will lose your licence and go back to being a learner. You will have to reapply for a provisional licence and take both the theory and practical driving test again.


To reduce the number of people killed and injured on the roads. Newly qualified drivers, especially young ones, are more at risk in the first two years after passing their test than at any other time. One in five will have an accident in the first year alone. Your license will be taken away if you increase that risk by committing offences such as speeding or using a mobile phone whilst driving.

Counting the Six Points

Penalty points count if you offend in the first two years after passing your test, even if a court does not give the sentence until after the probation period. Points awarded if you accept a Fixed Penalty Notice count towards the six. Any penalty points you are given before passing the test may also count as they are valid for three years.

Returning to L Plates

If you run up six or more penalty points, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will be told. They will write to you to say that your licence is no longer valid. You then have to reapply, and pay for a new provisional licence to drive.

As a learner:

  • You cannot drive on a motorway.
  • You must display L plates again.
  • You cannot drive a car unless you are with a driver aged 21 or over who has held a full licence for at least three years.


You cannot appeal directly against having your licence cancelled in these circumstances. But if your case is heard in court, it is possible to appeal against the conviction for which you got the penalty points or the penalty. Your licence won't be cancelled before the court has decided on the appeal. If you accept the Fixed Penalty Notice you can't appeal.


Having your licence cancelled affects your insurance policy and should tell you insurance company immediately.

Taking a Retest

The retest is just the same as a normal driving test. You must pay for and take the theory test as well as the practical. Passing one retest in a car or motorcycle should give you back all the classes of the full licence you held before. But if you had an LGV or PCV licence, the traffic commissioner must be satisfied that you are fit to have it back. He can insist that you take another LGV or PCV test if he chooses. In some cases, a court may order you to take a retest, which may be an extended test. You would not have to take two retests, but would have to take the one ordered by the court.

Further Penalty Points

If you pass a retest, you do not go through the same process again. But points stay on your licence four years from the date of the offence. Twelve points in three years usually means you lose your license for at least six months.

Main Penalty Point Offences

Your Licence is Precious - Why Risk It?





Traffic light offence


Careless and inconsiderate driving


Driving without insurance


Failing to stop after an accident or failing to report an accident


Failing to identify the driver of a vehicle


Driving when disqualified


Driving other than in accordance with a licence



The facts about young drivers

  • An 18 year old driver is more than three times more likely to be involved in a crash than a 48 year old driver.
  • One in five drivers crash within their first year of driving.
  • Almost one in four passengers who has been seriously injured was travelling with a young driver at the time.
  • Every day, four people are killed or seriously injured in collisions involving young drivers.
  • Eight out of ten accidental deaths involving 15 – 19 year old men occur on the road.  
  • In Cornwall in 2013 there were 220 young car driver casualties (aged 16 – 25).

Don't become one of these statistics; remember that when you pass your test it is only the very beginning of your driving experiences and you still have a lot to learn. Most young drivers are quite inexperienced and their reactions may also not be as quick as those of a more experienced driver (it takes new drivers up to two seconds longer to react to hazardous situations than more experienced drivers).

To counteract this keep your speed down, remember to check your mirrors, and be constantly aware of the other people using the roads and how they are behaving. 70% of collisions that involve drivers aged 17 – 20 are invariably caused by loss of control on a bend or overtaking.

As new drivers gain more driving experience their collision rate begins to fall. However, a driver's attitude is also important. Young drivers tend to be over-confident and are more likely to drive too fast.

New Drivers - The Law:

New drivers are allowed fewer penalty points on their licence than experienced drivers.

If a new driver acquires six or more penalty points within two years of passing their first test then their licence is revoked.

They must then obtain a provisional licence, drive as a learner (display 'L' plates and be supervised) and pass the theory and practical driving tests again.


The crash risk for young drivers is much higher when carrying passengers. Passengers can be distracting to all groups of driver because of movement, noise and general disruption in the car. However young drivers are also affected by peer pressure from their passengers.

The presence of friends in their car can encourage young drivers to drive in a more risky way. The collision risk for young drivers increases with each additional passenger carried: compared with driving alone, the risk of a fatal collision for young drivers is 39% higher with one passenger, 85% higher with two, and 182% higher with three or more.

The driver and passengers must wear a seatbelt at all times. More girls die as passengers than as drivers. Drive carefully when you're out as a couple.

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