Law reform boosts demand for driving licences

During the period January to June, hopeful roadsters applied for some 7,000 learners’ permits, while in July alone the number was some 4,000.

Legal changes calling for fewer hours of driving lessons have seen a surge in applications for learners’ permits for private cars, officials say. During the period January to June, hopeful roadsters applied for some 7,000 learners’ permits, while in July alone the number was some 4,000 -writes

The reason for the skyrocketing interest in drivers’ licences can be traced back to new laws that took effect from 1 July, which make it easier to get a driver’s permit. For one thing, instructors no longer have to pass a theory test nor do modifications made to a learner's vehicle have to be inspected. However, cars used for training learners must still have an extra brake pedal installed on the instructor’s side.

“We did expect a rise in popularity, but it was a surprise that the growth has been so huge,” said Kimmo Pylväs, a department head from the Finnish Transport Safety Agency Trafi.

Trafi estimated that one-third of drivers get on the road with a learner’s permit. The legal reform could see that proportion rise, but it remains to be seen how much.

Hundreds of euros cheaper?

One of the main goals of changing the rules was to ensure that driver’s licences would be cheaper and one way to achieve that end has been to reduce the number of hours of compulsory training.

From 1 July, the time devoted to mandatory driving and theory instruction fell by nearly a half compared to before the reform. However learners will have to complete eight hours of risk training that includes four hours of theory and four hours behind the wheel, including practicing in conditions such as low visibility and on slippery roads.

This means that the actual minimum amount of driving practice has fallen to 10 hours. The easing of the rules is expected to reduce the cost of getting a driver’s license from around 1,500 – 2,000 euros to about 1,000 euros. However since the number of tuition hours determ

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