Banning young drivers from the road at night could harm social mobility and employment prospects, the boss of the UK’s largest driving school has warned.

Red Driving School chief executive Ian McIntosh urged the Government to prioritise schemes which ensure young drivers are taught to respect the dangers of the road, rather than limit their independence.

The Department for Transport (DfT) says it is considering introducing a graduated licence system for new drivers in England amid figures showing a fifth are involved in an accident during their first year behind the wheel.

This could feature a series of restrictions, such as a minimum learning period, not driving at night and not driving with passengers under a certain age.

The DfT did not reveal how long the measures would be in place after someone has passed the driving test.

Mr McIntosh said: “Restricting driving licences may deter youngsters from learning to drive. This would impact social mobility, employment prospects and hamper local economies.

“It will also affect support networks built around friends and families – particularly in rural areas where public transport options are limited.

“At a time where young drivers are already penalised through higher insurance premiums, the Government should avoid action that further limits the opportunities offered by learning to drive.”

Insurance firm Insurethebox, which fits a telematics box to customers’ cars to record how safely they drive, compared a ban on driving at night to using “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

The company’s road safety manager, Simon Rewell, added: “Simply stopping new motorists from driving at night – which actually is an important skill to develop – affects the social mobility of our youngest adults which we believe would be quite demotivating.”

Road safety minister Michael Ellis said the UK has some of the safest roads in the world but “we are always looking at ways to make them safer”.

He went on: “Getting a driving licence is exciting for young people, but it can also be daunting as you’re allowed to drive on your own for the first time.

“We want to explore in greater detail how graduated driver licensing, or aspects of it, can help new drivers to stay safe and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads.”

Graduated licensing schemes already operate in several parts of the world, including New York and California in the US; Ontario and British Columbia in Canada, New South Wales and Victoria in Australia and Sweden.

The DfT is giving serious consideration to how the system could work as part of its Road Safety Action Plan, which will be published on Friday.

Any changes to licensing would be consulted on before being introduced.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “Newly qualified drivers, particularly young males, are a high road safety risk and much of this can be put down to lack of experience and overconfidence.

“We must do all we can to keep young drivers safe and this starts with making our licensing process more robust.”