Road Safety News
 

Drivers ‘should be made to learn for a year’

Thursday 4th October 2012

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is calling for a range of measures to address the casualty problem among young, newly qualified drivers (BBC News).

The ABI says that people should spend at least a year learning to drive and also wants new drivers to face restrictions on driving at night and a lower alcohol limit. On the other hand the ABI it says people should be allowed to start learning six months before their 17th birthday, adding that the need for more rigorous driver training has been side-stepped “for too long”.

The BBC News report says that other reforms put forward by the ABI include: a ban on learners being able to take an intensive driving course as their only method of passing; the introduction of a new ‘graduated’ licence for the first six months after passing a test (during this time the number of young passengers that a newly-qualified driver could carry would also be restricted); a ban on driving between 11:00pm and 4:00am for the first six months (unless they were driving to and from work or college); and no blood alcohol allowed during the first six months.

Otto Thoresen, ABI director general, said: “Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads, especially among the 17 to 24 age group.

“A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.

“Northern Ireland is introducing reforms and politicians in Westminster should follow their lead in introducing meaningful reform to help today's young drivers become tomorrow's safer motorists.”

Stephen Hammond, road safety minister, said the Government would consider the ideas, adding: “We are already working with young people, the insurance industry and other key stakeholders to identify what else can be done to ensure that newly-qualified drivers are properly prepared and drive safely.”

Click here to read the full BBC News report.

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Of course people focus on their driving test. That is their passport to freedom and I think it is a minority of youngsters who will drive recklessly. They can be identified at quite an early age whilst taking part in other road safety inputs such as cycle training. I think parents (or those who pay for driving lessons) need to take some blame here too as many pressurize ADIs by the constant question "when will they be ready for test" not "when will they be safe enough to drive on their own?" Pressure, I must add, I as an ADI chose to ignore!
Lucy, Scotland

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

Thank you, James. Point noted. I know there are ADIs who 'teach for life' as you put it, and that is excellent where it happens. But my impression is that they are, sadly, in the minority.
Nigel Albright

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0

Regarding ADIs being test orientated - this may be due to both the Part 3 exam and check test focusing grading on fault analysis. These faults are those an examiner would mark down on a practical test.

I have met many ADIs who, like myself, teach for life first before thinking about the practical test and then find their pupils cope with the test well as their driving is above the standard that examiners have come to expect on test. With good instructing/coaching techniques this can be achieved with less than the number of lessons that the DSA quotes (47 lessons plus 22hrs private practice). This approach also brings a high referral rate as well.
Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

I would agree that many people are not aware they may be vulnerable to a crash - and part of this may be that there is not enough negative re-inforcement in driving (i.e. the vast majority of the time that people tailgate nothing happens). The majority of my first paragraph was based on the fact that research shows both drivers' crash liability and commission of violations correlates with their parents'.
Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

Whilst I agree with James Whalen's second paragraph I would, if I may, take slight issue with him on his first one. There seems to be a general tendency to say, 'Not me gov', if anyone can get away with anything. The problem is that people think they are 'OK' because they haven't had a crash, but little do they know that their mind-set and behaviour might make them vulnerable to one. It's the vulnerability factor which they need to become aware of.

I haven't been an ADI but have done a lot of training them towards advanced standards, so do understand their (general) mindset very well. In my experience most of them are very 'test' orientated. It’s mainly a product of their industry.
Nigel Albright

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+2

We have a society that values cars and people like to think they're good drivers. As children pick up driving habits from a very early age parents doing things correctly with the right attitude will help with the implicit conditioning that takes place as children are passengers.

Therefore, the poor driving habits of some parents and some of the sub-cultures within driving combine to make training and legislation largely ineffective with some young drivers.
Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

I totally agree with Lucy and Nigel in respect to early intervention and changing driving attitudes before young people learn to drive.

Putting these policies in place probably won't have long term effects, as the safety attitude of the driver has already been set - even before they learnt to drive.

The Government need to invest into road safety education and pre-driver schemes to change attitudes so these type of restrictions do not need to be put into place.
Mike, from http://dontbethatsomeone.co.uk (London)

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

I quite agree with Dr Whalen, how would learning to drive for a year be monitored? As an ex-ADI, who of course did teach to the test requirements but also taught "safe driving for life" I think people need to do the job before they criticise the ADI. How many ADIs teach their pupils to race, overtake in silly places, plant their foot on the accelerator to make as much noise as possible? These attitudes are formed at a very young age and until early interventions in road safety are better supported and not classed as the "Tufty Club" stats won't get much better!
Lucy Scotland

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)
+8

Idris focuses on 'the examination', which is understandable but, the real issue is mind-set because that determines behaviour. And the development of mindset starts when the child, he or she, can first see over the dashboard. That is going to be some ten years plus before they ever get behind the wheel themselves. And considering that most drivers are like the next crash waiting to happen you can see where the real problem is. Also, as a generalization, ADIs need to think primarily (and understand) that they should not be teaching people to pass a test, but firstly teaching them safe road behaviour (aka mind-set). The two are not necessarily the same. That means the DSA needs to latch on to that one as well. Yes, post test influences are good but the root of the issue needs addressing first otherwise the house is being built on sand.
Nigel Albright

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

Some good ideas, but fails to cope with the great differences in natural aptitude of those seeking a license - amongst the young, and also amongst other groups such as those who have driven in the past but need a new license - eg immigrants or banned. Should they really be forced to "learn for an year"? If so how many lessons, given by whom?

As in most other examinations, ability on the day seems best to me - though a provisional license with restrictions for youngsters or others lacking experience makes sense
Idris Francis Petersfield

Agree (1) | Disagree (5)
-4

I never understand the argument of "it won't be policed." In our society we should think of enforcement as a last resort, with encouragement and self-compliance the norm. When did the police last check my tyre pressure or that I was wearing my seat belt? Never, but I do it myself becuase its the law. And whilst any law for young driver restrictions would need thought and encouragement, I am sure that the vast majority would self comply.
pete, liverpool

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)
+2

Great ideas, however in the current climate, it would remain unpoliced.
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)
+6

How would learning for a year be monitored? People could start then stop for a few months to save money before only doing just enough to pass the test before the year is up. Some sort of post-test regulation needs to be brought in as the new drivers's act and high insurance premiums have not managed to deter the reckless minority that drive the way they want post-test. What is to be introduced will need very careful consideration.
Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4