Ministry of Transport and Communications to draft an amendment to the Driving Licence Act
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has launched a legislative project with the aim of amending the Driving Licence Act. The project was motivated by a need to improve road safety, especially for young drivers.
"I find it important that real-life observations are assessed by a broad-based group of experts. The objective is to find efficient means of improving the road safety of young people that genuinely work", says Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications.
A report of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom found a declining trend in young drivers' accidents in 2019 and 2020. On the other hand, the number of injuries sustained by 17-year-olds while driving a passenger car went up in 2020, and drivers in this age group violated driving bans almost twice as often as 18-year-olds. Risky driving behaviour was also found in men of all age groups.
By updating the regulation, the ministry strives to respond to concerns over young drivers without restricting young people's mobility. The project also aims for increased flexibility in obtaining a driving licence and the authorities' actions.
Among other things, the project will assess the required hours and delivery methods of instruction as well as the effectiveness of driving tests and adequacy of sanctions. It will also look at any other changes that may be needed to improve the road safety of young drivers.
The Driving Licence Act amendment is also associated with the ministry's pending traffic safety strategy, which covers all modes of transport.
Focus on 'human factors'
The Driving Licence Act was reformed in 2018. As the Act was passed, Parliament required the Government to commission a follow-up study on the implementation and impacts of the amendment. Traficom initiated preparations for the study in summer 2020, and the first findings were published on 10 March 2021.
The report found that newly qualified drivers' risky behaviour has similar features regardless of their age. Approx. 50 per cent of driving ban violations are committed within the first four months of having been granted the right to drive. The factors involved may include a lack of driving experience, excessive self-confidence or group pressure exerted on the driver. It is likely that inadequate driving experience undermines the ability to assess risks, and drivers fail to understand how dangerous their behaviour is.
Age and its impacts are not the only underlying factors of 17-year-olds' driving ban violations. In addition to age, gender is an important factor. Men accounted for almost 90 per cent of all those guilty of a driving ban violation in all age groups studied. The significance of gender is highlighted further among 17-year-olds as, among the groups examined, men aged 17 who had a right to drive outnumbered women in this cohort almost two to one, whereas the proportions in other age groups are more even.
In the kick-off phase of the project and as part of the traffic safety strategy work, an expert meeting will be organised. Experts of behavioural science, psychology, mental health, driving instruction and transport safety among others will be invited to participate this meeting. The discussions at the meeting are expected to support the preparation of both the traffic safety strategy and the Driving Licence Act amendment.
Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 507 0916
Monika Mutanen, Senior Officer, tel. +358 50 478 4820