Teen drivers in Manitoba's graduated driver licensing program have been getting into fewer collisions, according to the results of a study the provincial government released Friday.

Attorney General Dave Chomiak and Transportation Minister Ron Lemieux released the findings of the study, which looked at novice drivers from15½ to 19 years old in the program in 2005.

"Before GDL was introduced, we knew that novice drivers were more than three times as likely to be involved in collisions as experienced drivers," Lemieux said in a release Friday.

"This report suggests that GDL is helping young driversreduce injuries and gain driving experience in Manitoba."

Three stages in program

Novice drivers in the province's graduated driver licensing program go through three stages spanning five years. In the learner and intermediate stages, drivers must be accompanied by a supervising driver, must have zero blood alcohol content, and cannot have more passengers in the vehicle than there are seatbelts.

Drivers who pass those stages enter the full stage, in which they must remain alcohol-free while behind the wheel for three years.

Since graduated driver licensing fully took effect in 2003, there has been a 43 per cent drop in the number of injury and damage claims, collisions and convictions compared to before the program started, according to the study.

It reported 1,217 fewer injuries and 3,724 fewer collisions involving young beginning drivers from 2003 to 2005, compared to numbers from 2000 to 2002.

Drivers in the graduated driver licensing program were 43 per cent less likely to be in a crash for which they were responsible.

The study examined insurance claims, police-reported crashes and convictions of novice drivers, and then combined the data with driving records.

The province will conduct a comprehensive review of the program later this year, after the first batch of novice drivers has graduated from the program — meaning no restrictions on their licences — for a full year.

Make tests tougher: driving instructor

Driving instructor Frank Robertson of Abby Road Driving Training School in Winnipeg said Friday that while he is pleased with the survey results, the driving test itself should be longer and tougher, assessing a wider variety of driving skills.

"The test hasn't been changed at all, and that's what I don't feel good about. The test should be a lot more stringent than what it is, it should be a lot tougher," he said Friday.

"They spend about five, 10 minutes on [parallel] parking. And when's the last time someone died parallel parking? It doesn't happen. I'd like to see a lot more showing them how to merge and yield … a lot more dynamics."

He added that driver testing should also assess a driver's vision as well as defensive driving skills.

Robertson suggested curfews should also be implemented for young drivers and that all new drivers should be subjected to an "exit test" after they have completed all the stages of the program.