Road Safety News
 

Leicestershire teenagers offered a taste of the road

Tuesday 3rd May 2011

Specially-tailored taster sessions, designed to prepare young people for driving, are being held in Leicestershire this summer.

Run by Leicestershire County Council, the course gives 16-17 year olds the chance to get behind the wheel in a safe and secure environment.

The day-long sessions warn teenagers about potential risks by testing their reactions while wearing 'beer goggles' and when texting.

Through practical skills and classroom theory, students can also get to grips with differing speeds, try out slalom sets and pick up advice from instructors about hazard and speed awareness.

Lesley Pendleton, county council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "By preparing young people for driving, we aim to boost their skills and influence behaviour before bad habits develop.

"Reseach shows that in Leicestershire, young people account for 12% of licence holders but are involved in 28% of collisions.”

For more information contact Allan Smart or Julie Barradale on 0116 305 6607.

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Mike is it your view then that research indicates all pre-driver activity has a negative effect? As a DfT Evaluation Champion my interest in commenting on this story was to encourage colleagues to set measurable objectives before embarking on a project and to publish what it is they intend to achieve by that activity. Your comments would lead one to suppose you consider all pre-driver training unhelpful and that your view is supported by validated research. Is this, in fact, the case?
Mandy Rigault, Oxfordshire

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Let me see if I’ve got this straight Dave: You find it hard to believe that a road safety intervention that has been shown by TWO DECADES of evaluative research not to work, or even to worsen young drivers’ collision risks, could be viewed negatively? I take it from your quote: “We can all quote facts and figures from various reports; you can often find one report that totally disagrees with another…” that you haven’t troubled to actually look at the research yourself, preferring to believe that: “[o]nly if you attend one of these events will you get a true impression of what is being achieved.” I’m sorry but this kind of woolly thinking is partly responsible for us being in the situation we’re in now, with money being whipped away from us because only rarely have we been able to show that we spend it wisely – even when we have. I need to make clear here that the research indicates that it’s not that the quality of the training on days like this isn’t good enough – quite the opposite. It’s that ANYTHING that encourages early (i.e. younger) test-passing increases a young driver’s collision risk because age is a strong determinant for that risk. So a really good day of driver training off-road for a 16-year old increases their confidence in their skills (again something the research shows isn’t a good thing) and makes it more likely they’ll pass the test earlier than if we hadn’t intervened. RSGB provided some illumination on this controversial and confusing topic with a literature review ‘Blueprint for successful driver education’ (Gandolfi 2009) available from the Knowledge Centre.
Mike Mounfield, Birmingham

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If we had unlimited funding then Dave Spencer would be right. We would not have to make choices about how public money is spent to best effect. However that is not the case and I agree with Mike Mountfield that we need to be very clear what we are hoping to achieve with any given intervention. When setting aims and objectives it makes sense to take account of available data. The news item cannot give us the whole picture of the Leicestershire event - however it would be good if we included our objectives when doing publicity, as that would give colleagues a geater insight into our thinking and demonstrate that a given intervention was considered and not just "a good idea" we HOPE will save a life or affect one young person positively at some time in the future.
Mandy Rigault

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I find it hard to believe that any initiative aimed at reducing road death can be viewed negatively. We can all quote facts and figures from various reports; you can often find one report that totally disagrees with another. I believe the important message should be that any idea that can save just one life should be investigated. If young driver road shows can go even part way to giving a new driver, experience and awareness they should be welcomed and developed. Only if you attend one of these events will you get a true impression of what is being achieved and how it is being done. Having spent time talking to the organising team, I am reliably informed that all participants paid to attend, the cost to the local authority was therefore non-existent. In conclusion: an event that is educational, self-funding, well attended and potentially lifesaving, sounds like a winner to me.
Dave Spencer, Teesside

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This has nothing to do with my views, jaundiced or otherwise (jaundiced by what by-the-way, jaundiced by reading too much research?). The research says what it says - and there's a lot of it saying it. The main priority is to spend public money on things that the research says works and not spending it on things that our gut instincts tell us SHOULD work - no matter how long we've been in road safety. I’m glad that the day includes something on ‘behaviour, distraction, peer pressure, consequencies (sic) and costs.’ Those things are not mentioned in the news item. Whether they whizz around those cones or solemnly crawl, the environment is inauthentic and proven to have no impact on post-test collision risk. I too groaned at the missed opportunity of GDL (and reducing the drink drive limit for that matter). We criticise our political leaders for these things and the shameful vanishing act they’ve perpetrated on 66% of our funding, but then spend some of what we’re left with on things that are proven not to reduce collision risk out of some mis-directed urge to ‘do something’. Jaundiced? I don’t think so!
Mike Mounfield, Birmingham

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I'm sorry that Mike Mounfield has taken such a jaundiced view of the pre-driver courses run in Leicestershire. The main priority is to get youngsters to begin to consider responsibilities linked to the driving experience. The pre-driver day includes modules on behaviour, distraction, peer pressure, consequencies and costs.
We all know that youngsters passing their driving test at a young age are vulnerable. We all know that post test training is of benefit. However, what we have at present is a population of 17 year olds who, for better or worse, are quite at liberty to learn to drive, take a test and drive independently at that tender age, with or without the research advice quoted and without any compulsion to take further training. The previous Government was not interested in graduated licensing which, from evidence elsewhere, would have helped the problem that we have.
We don't have youngsters whizzing round cones on our courses.I do not truly believe that Mike meant that. Perhaps he just wanted to end his comment with a bang!
Nigel Horsley, Leicestershire

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Oh dear. In straightened times yet another local authority responds to the gut instinct that getting kids into cars in an inauthentic off-road environment will somehow make them safer drivers, despite a huge weight of evidence to the contrary (Helman, Grayson and Parkes, TRL INS005). Giving pre-drivers a leg up the lower levels of the GDE matrix just leads to earlier test-passing, i.e. passing at a younger age. Given that age is a strong determinant of collision risk that's not a good thing to do. Better to give them post-test experience, hazard-detection skills etc in a realistic environment and a leg up the higher levels of the GDE matrix. The more support they get through that first 1000 miles post-test the less collision risk they have. The data's out there for us all to read, instead of blowing perfectly good cash on letting kids whizz round cones, as shown in the picture.
Mike Mounfield, Birmingham

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