All new drivers could be required to learn first aid as part of changes to the driving test which were debated in Parliament this week.

The Ten Minute Rule Bill, tabled by Conservative MP Will Quince and supported by the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance, would require applicants to attend a four-hour practical first aid session as a minimum requirement for receiving a driving licence.

In the last 12 months, 1,780 people have been killed on British roads and a total of 23,700 were killed or seriously injured.

A survey by St John Ambulance found that 59% of the British public wouldn’t feel confident enough to save a life at the scene of an accident, and 24% would do nothing until an ambulance arrived or a passer-by who knew first aid appeared.

Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education, said: “Where someone is seriously injured or fighting for their lives, every second counts. It is vital that the first person on the scene of a road traffic accident – who will most likely be another driver – knows how to keep someone alive. Just knowing how to roll an unconscious but breathing casualty onto their side and lift their chin can be all it takes to save a life.”

The Bill would ensure motorists were equipped with basic first-aid skills which could help save thousands of lives lost each year, not only on Britain’s roads, but in a range of emergency situations.

Sue Killen CEO at St John Ambulance said: “Ensuring drivers have life-saving skills is a no brainer when so many people are injured on British roads. This proposed measure could enable more people to step forward and be the difference between life and death in an emergency. We are pleased to work with Will Quince in moving this forward.”

Many other European nations already include first aid as a mandatory requirement for obtaining a driving licence. For example, in order to qualify for a driving theory test in Switzerland, applicants must prove they have undertaken 10 hours of first aid instruction and in Germany applicants must take a single seven and a half hour first aid course.

Will Quince, Conservative MP for Colchester, said: “It’s time we followed the lead of many other European countries in making first aid training a requirement for receiving a full driving licence”.

Around 63% of the population aged between 21 and 29 have a driving licence. If that figure remains steady, within around 13 years, the proposal would help to ensure nearly two thirds of the people under the age of 30 in Britain would be educated in first aid.