GDL: ‘the only evidenced approach to significantly improve young driver safety’

11.37 | 3 November 2020 | | 5 comments

A highly respected road safety academic has strongly criticised the ongoing Transport Committee young driver inquiry, describing it as ‘not an impartial review’.

Dr Neale Kinnear, who is head of transport safety at TRL, made his comments in a keynote presentation, published on 2 November as part of the Festival of Road Safety.

In his presentation, he describes the Transport Committee inquiry as ‘not an impartial review’, in which ‘anecdote, personal preference and poorly gathered opinion are given equal weight to overwhelming scientific evidence’. He also says the inquiry ‘mistakenly trades off safety with freedom’.

Dr Kinnear is particularly critical of the Government’s decision not to progress with the introduction of a graduated driver licensing (GDL) scheme – as announced to the Transport Committee by the roads minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton on 22 October.

He states that GDL was supported by the majority of people and organisations who submitted a written response to the inquiry, and goes on to describe GDL as ‘the only evidenced approach to significantly improve young driver safety’.

Dr Kinnear is also very critical of an online survey of young drivers carried out as part of the inquiry, describing some of the questions as ‘surprising’.

He highlights one question in particular which asks young drivers whether GDL ‘would be unfair in any respect’ – likening it to asking turkeys whether they think Christmas is unfair in any respect.

Dr Kinnear says implementing GDL is about providing a supportive framework for developing safe new drivers. Rather than being an alternative to other interventions, he calls on the road safety community to come together to support improving education, training, testing and telematics within a GDL system.

Click here to view Neale Kinnear’s presentation – his conclusions (which this report is largely based on) can be found at around 19 minutes into the video.



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    GDL would be good for new drivers especially young ones who’s brains are still developing and decision making is not so good.
    They should have capacity limited cars just like motorcyclists do and have a different colour plate for the grade like new drivers have green plates so you can make allowances. There shouldn’t be night driving restrictions or penalties greater than the rest of us especially as they will make more errors.

    Phill Hopewell, Birmingham
    Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

    Dr Kinnear’s comments are based on the evidence and should be fully supported. Very sadly, I suspect the current Government will do little that can be construed to limit individual freedoms in the current pandemic. Therefore, this is likely to become another missed opportunity, as it was a few years back when the Cameron Government backtracked on the same issue.

    With regards to driving lessons not being fit for purpose, it is important to recognise the limitations of the learning to drive process. The presence of the Driving instructor limits or removes many of the issues new drivers will have to deal with on passing their test, for example, peers, fatigue, distractions, etc. Then, a society that should be protecting them instantly allows them exposure to these additional pressures and wonders why they may struggle to cope. This is not about being anti young people, it is about wanting them to have as healthy and happy a life as possible and preventing their lives, and others, becoming blighted due to a momentary mistake.

    Surely it makes sense to allow young people to develop their skills through practice below allowing them to face all the challenges that even the most experienced driver can struggle with.

    Ian Edwards, Doncaster
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    Select Committees comprise politicians, not experts, reflecting the composition of Parliament. They are not like independent public inquiries, planning inquiries etc which are bound by laws of impartiality and subject to legal challenge. Committee members will inevitably weigh the political aspects of issues as well as academic evidence.

    One of the strengths of the system is that it puts evidence into the public domain, even if the Committee chooses not to accept its conclusions.

    Although the Minister has announced that the DfT is no longer investigating GDL, the Committee has not yet published its report so we will have to see what it recommends.

    David Davies
    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)

    The driving test doesn’t take in to account the psychological make-up of the candidate i.e whether once acquiring their driving licenses will they a) take their responsibilites seriously, conscientously carry on as they have been taught, exercising due care and attention and avoiding bad behaviour or b) will they get carried away with their new-found mobility, succumb to their boy-racer tendencies, over-estimate their abilties become reckless and er..crash? As they are becoming licensed to be in charge of a potential killing machine, perhaps the authorities and the testers should pay more attention to the personalities they are actually allowing on to the roads.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (1) | Disagree (13)

    > Dr Kinnear says implementing GDL is about providing a supportive framework for developing safe new drivers

    Or it’s a way of admitting that driving lessons aren’t fit for purpose without offending thousands of competent driving instructors out there?

    > He highlights one question in particular which asks young drivers whether GDL ‘would be unfair in any respect’ – likening it to asking turkeys whether they think Christmas is unfair in any respect.

    It’s a valid question, and if anything, this sort of reaction shows the level of contempt that is held against responsible and safe young drivers

    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Agree (4) | Disagree (10)

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