Minister Harakka: Proposal to amend the Driving Licence Act responds to challenges in young people’s road safety

Press release 05.09.2022 09.10 fi sv en

(Photo: Laura Kotila, VNK)

The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom has completed a study on how the 2018 reform of the Driving Licence Act has affected road safety. The driving licence reform was not found to have a significant impact on the number of injuries sustained by young people aged 15–20.

The 2018 reform of the Driving Licence Act sought to clarify the regulation on driving licences and, in particular, ease the system of acquiring a licence. This was then expected to be reflected in the price of the driving licence, among other things. Following the reform, category B driving licences could be issued to 17-year-olds by an exemption permit. According to the study commissioned by Traficom, the 2018 amendments to the Driving Licence Act did not impair young people’s road safety.

The outcomes of the study indicate that while the overall number of injuries sustained by passenger car drivers aged 17–19 has declined since the legislative amendment, 17-year-olds were slightly more likely to suffer injuries than 18–19-year-olds. By 2020, however, the number of injuries among 17-year-olds had dropped below the 2018 level of injuries sustained by 18–19-year-olds.

The driving licence reform was not found to have any significant impact on the overall number of road traffic injuries among young people aged 17. While the number of injuries sustained by 18-year-olds driving vehicles such as mopeds and motorcycles has decreased, the number of injuries among car and van drivers of the same age has increased. The number of injuries sustained by other parties in accidents involving 17-year-old drivers has also gone up.

“I think it's important that the public debate concerning the road traffic behaviour of 17-year-olds is based on evidence. A new proposed amendment to the Driving Licence Act aims to further improve the road safety of drivers under 18 years of age,” says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.

The first part of the follow-up study on the Driving Licence Act was completed on 10 March 2021. Sitowise Oy carried out the first part and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland the new second part that is published now.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications launched a project to amend the Act later in spring 2021. The project responds to the concerns raised in the first part of the study regarding young people’s driving behaviour, while providing young people with opportunities for independent mobility.

Government proposal for amending the Driving Licence Act responds to challenges confirmed by research

On 5 May 2022, the Government submitted a new proposal to Parliament for amending the Driving Licence Act. The proposal seeks to improve road safety for young people and provide them with opportunities for independent mobility.

According to the proposal, restricted category B driving rights could be granted for 17-year-olds with the consent of their parent or guardian. The right to drive would not be valid between midnight and 5 am, and the driver could only have one passenger at a time. The restrictions would be valid until the driver turns 18. To facilitate the enforcement of the restrictions, 17-year-old drivers would have to use a symbol affixed to the car indicating that the driver is under 18 years old.

In the light of the study commissioned by Traficom, the restrictions detailed in the government proposal for amending the Driving Licence Act are steps in the right direction.

“Young people’s road safety must be taken seriously. I am pleased that we have addressed the right issues in the proposal to amend the Driving Licence Act. This way we can increase the safety and skills of young drivers on our roads,” says Minister Harakka.

The amendments to the Driving Licence Act aim to advance the road safety of young drivers also by improving driving instruction. A few other amendments would be made to the Act at the same time, for example with regard to driving test fraud.

What's next?

Parliament will discuss the government proposal in the Transport and Communications Committee. Once the Committee has completed its report, the consideration of the matter will continue in Parliament’s plenary session.

Any additional major amendments to the Driving Licence Act will be assessed and implemented separately. Amendments to driving licence legislation are expected in connection with the reform of the EU Directive on driving licences.

The authorities continuously monitor the impacts of the Act, especially from the perspective of traffic safety.

Inquiries:

Antti Malste, Special Adviser to Minister Harakka, antti.malste(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 438 7734

Driving Licence Act reform:

Saara Louko, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Transport and Communications, saara.louko(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 326 4741

Monika Mutanen, Senior Specialist, Ministry of Transport and Communications, monika.mutanen(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 478 4820 (absent 5–11 September 2022)

Follow-up study on the Driving Licence Act:

Elina Uusitalo, Senior Specialist, Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom, elina.uusitalo(at)traficom.fi, tel. +358 29 534 5445