UNIVERSITY experts have backed calls for an overhaul on the laws surrounding young drivers.

The findings of a major study by Cardiff University academics has boosted the campaign to cut the number of young people killed on the roads.

They said 17 to 24-year-olds should be banned from driving at night or carrying other young people as passengers - the key aim of the Lancashire Telegraph’s Wasted Lives campaign, which has already been supported by MPs, charities and the influential transport select committee.

The previous Labour government turned its back on a graduated licence scheme, which would allow drivers to build up their skills and experience gradually.

But now the Cardiff study has given fresh impetus to the campaign.

With one in five new drivers crashing within the first six months, the team said many accidents could be avoided by targeting them with graduated licensing.

The researchers said the policy worked well in other countries.

And campaigners are now hoping to put pressure on new Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to change the law.

Ellen Booth, of road safety charity Brake, said the new government had shown signs of being willing to talk about the issue. She welcomed the team’s findings, adding: “So much evidence shows that graduated licences are an effective way of reducing road deaths among young people.”

Terry Hannon spearheaded the Wasted Lives campaign after his 22-year-old son Matthew was killed in a smash in Livesey Branch Road in 2006.

He said: “I agree with this to a certain degree, because something definitely should be done.”

Mr Hannon said the move could be tough to enforce, and insisted more stringent penalties on young speeding drivers were needed in the meantime.