The Institute of Advanced Motorists is calling on the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to introduce an eco driving refresher within the first year of a new driver passing their test.

The comments come as the driving test in the UK reached its 80th birthday on 1 June.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, wants the UK to adopt a similar system to the one in place in Austria, which operates a two-part practical test. It involves an initial assessment followed by a probationary period with a zero tolerance to driving offences and blood alcohol levels.

The second part is made up of five mandatory courses, which¬† include two 50-minute improvement lessons within two to four months of the first practical test, a day’s further training with a “drive psychologist”, and a further two 50-minute, advanced improvement driving courses, which must be done six to 12 months after passing the first test.

Greig said: “A second or apprentice driving test phase is something we believe should be considered alongside graduated driver licensing.

“We would certainly see a place for green driving techniques in a new reformed system so that driving instructors are compelled to teach them.”

Greig told BusinessCar the first step to introducing a two-stage test was to create a green paper consultation document and submit it to the Government for review.

He said: “A green paper would help create a meaningful debate about the best solution for the UK.”
While eco driving could be part of a reformed test, Greig also makes the point that increasing safety overall with a new test would be ‘greener’ in itself due to the amount of litres of fuel wasted each day in idling tailbacks caused by careless driving.

Graham Hurdle, E-training World managing director, said the driving test has evolved since its introduction in 1935, but the industry needs to consider how changes to the test could affect pass rates.
He said: “Driving underpins industry and economic growth in so many ways. What would the UK economy look like if far fewer people could get about?

“The driving test does ‘exactly what it says on the tin’ – a basic assessment of someone’s driving ability at that time. Where we are failing as a nation is assuming that the test is the be all and end all.

“Are we really kidding ourselves into thinking that a 17-year old can be given a few months’ training, having never sat behind the wheel prior to their first lesson, then rip their L plates up and be a safe driver for the rest of their life?

“The most interesting fact, in my mind, is that driving was far more hazardous 80 years ago.”