Young drivers face a 2-year ban on driving at night under a proposed overhaul of the driving test system.

Designed to cut road deaths, the change would force teenagers to wait until they are 18 before taking their test. And even if they pass, youths will then be subject to a 2-year night-driving curfew and be restricted to carrying a single passenger. The restrictions would be lifted only if they pass a second test at the age of 20, effectively making them probationary drivers for up to 3 years.

The ideas are being put forward by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), which sets the driving test, to try to halt an increase in the number of fatal crashes involving drivers aged between 17 and 20.

In 2005 there were 542 fatalities in such crashes and statistics show that young drivers are significantly more likely to have an accident after dark and when they have a car full of friends.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists condemned the move based on the amount of extra money teenagers will have to fork out to become fully fledged drivers.