Crash rates among young drivers could be cut if in-car footage was shared with their parents, according to a new report.
The study, carried out for the RAC Foundation by Dr Bruce Simons-Morton, a distinguished academic from the USA, concludes young drivers are likely to moderate their behaviour behind the wheel – if they believe their actions will get back to their parents.
Dr Simons-Morton says it is often young drivers’ parents who effectively control the keys because they have paid for the car and foot the bill for running costs such as insurance.
He adds that evidence shows that while new young drivers can drive relatively safely when they are accompanied by their parents or other adults, they undertake more risky behaviour when that adult figure is absent.
The report suggests the combined use of dash cams and ‘accelerometers’ – technology that records the high G-forces created when a car is driven erratically or dangerously – can be particularly effective.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “This report doesn’t suggest that dash cam footage replaces Strictly or The Voice as regular Saturday night family viewing, but it does argue that greater parental appreciation of what their children get up behind the wheel can be beneficial.
“While teenagers may baulk at the idea of mum and dad effectively supervising their every trip, a constant parental presence, delivered through technology, has been shown to moderate risky behaviour behind the wheel.
“Every parent of a young driver wants their child to drive safely without having to be in the car themselves, but through ‘black box’ telematics and dash cam technology virtual supervision can have a big impact.”
GDL and greater evaluation also needed
Alongside his argument for greater ‘parental management’, Dr Simons-Morton says international evidence underlines the case for graduated driver licensing (GDL).
GDL schemes place restrictions on new drivers, such as a minimum learning period, not driving at night, or not driving with passengers under a certain age in the car.
In July, as part of its road safety action plan, the Government confirmed it was considering introducing GDL in England.
The Government press release announcing the GDL consultation said: “Our goal is to discover more and conduct research on what effect different forms of GDL would have in the UK to help young people deal with any restrictions, and keep them, their passengers and other road users safe.”
Dr Simons-Morton also calls for greater evaluation of both pre and post-qualification education programmes for drivers, particularly as they relate to higher-order skills such as hazard perception and mitigation.