A one-day conference focusing on young driver safety has produced a number of recommendations for the incoming government, and ‘calls to action’ for road safety professionals.
The conference, Young Driver Focus 2015, was jointly organised by Road Safety GB and FirstCar and held at the RAC Club in London on 15 April, courtesy of the RAC Foundation. More than 150 road safety professionals attended the event.
Professor Stephen Stradling led the call for the incoming government (post-election) to reconsider the introduction of a Graduated Driver Licencing (GDL) scheme as the most important action to reduce casualties caused, and experienced, by young drivers.
Driver training expert Ian Edwards urged government to consider how the learning to drive process/experience can be more closely aligned to driving in ‘the real world’.
In a third challenge for the new government, the conference agreed that more research/evidence is required to ensure road safety interventions are successful in the future.
The key messages for road safety professionals were: to incorporate behaviour change techniques into road safety interventions; and to accept that they don’t always have to do something just because they feel they should, and recognise it is possible to do more harm than good with a poorly thought through intervention.
Delegates also heard that technology (including telematics) is a potential road safety game changer.
On the subject of driver distraction, Dr Shaun Helman from TRL stressed the point that “you cannot do two things at once, if one of them is driving”, and emphasised that distraction affects all drivers, not just young drivers.
Michael McDonnell, Road Safety Scotland, said that parents and others should be encouraged to positively influence young people from an early age with regard to driving.
The post event survey indicates that the road safety professionals who attended found the event very useful. 98% rated the conference content as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’, and 99% gave the same rating for the overall event, and for the organisation.
All of the presentations, and a summary of the outcomes, are available for download from the event website.