‘MPs must act to save young drivers’ lives’

13.01 | 14 March 2024 | | 4 comments

A group of road safety experts have signed a letter calling on MPs from all political parties to commit to taking action on proven evidence-based measures to save the lives of young drivers.

The letter, which was published on the Guardian website yesterday (13 March), says “we see too many car crashes resulting in the tragic death or serious injury of young people”.

Data shows 4,935 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving young drivers during 2022.

The letter says: “we have known for decades that young drivers are more likely to crash due to inexperience, when carrying similar-aged passengers, and are susceptible to peer influence”.

The experts point to other countries, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who have “supported young drivers through the transition from being a learner by initially limiting their driving in the riskiest situations”.

Known more commonly as graduated driver licencing, this includes carrying peer-aged passengers and driving at night. 

The letter says the evidence is “compelling” and the measures have reduced deaths by between 20% and 40%.

It concludes by saying “despite talking about supporting young drivers for decades, MPs have failed to act on the best evidence. 

“In an election year, we call on all political parties to commit to taking action on proven evidence-based measures to save young lives”.

The letter was written by:

  • Dr Ian Greenwood, Campaigner to stop road deaths
  • Prof Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, professor of psychology and cognitive neuroscience, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Elizabeth Box, research director, RAC Foundation
  • Prof Nicola Christie, professor of transport safety, University College London
  • Prof Kevin Fenton, president, UK Faculty of Public Health
  • Dr Pamela J Hardy, chair, Faculty of Pre-hospital Care, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • Dr Shaun Helman, chief scientist, Transport Research Laboratory
  • Prof Samantha Jamson, professor of transport psychology, Institute for Transport Studies, University of Leeds
  • Prof Andrew Morris, professor of human factors in transport safety, Loughborough University
  • Prof Tim Nutbeam, professor of prehospital medicine, University of Plymouth
  • Prof Ian Walker, professor of psychology and head of school, Swansea University



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    If GDL is to be introduced, the policy needs to be ‘rural-proofed’. Those teenagers who have passed their driving test can be a real help to siblings and friends who need to get to their low paid part time jobs on all sorts of anti social hours and neither ends of the journey are anywhere near a bus route. A lot of people don’t live in towns. Please don’t bring GDL in without addressing this issue.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    The Guardian article stated:

    ‘The Department for Transport has no plans to introduce restrictions on younger drivers. It said: “Every death or serious injury on our roads is a tragedy. We continue to work hard to improve road safety for all users, including our Think! campaign, which is primarily aimed at young men, as well as ongoing research on how to best support the skills of newly qualified drivers.”’

    Well, they may be working hard, but it’s not at improving road safety, otherwise GDL (and ISA) would have been introduced at least a decade ago. With another carload of teenagers killed and injured just last week (in my former area of influence) I feel angry and frustrated. Perhaps it’s about time DaFT started to “Think!” Ion my experience, it simply isn’t fit for purpose.

    We can only hope that the letter well help to focus minds on the problem rather than the image.

    Fraser Andrew, STIRLING
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    > politicians will always look after themselves before considering the lives of the electorate

    Or perhaps the politicians may be pragmatic?

    Anyhow I look forward for when those who are proposing GDL have their licences un-necessarily curtailed due to their ever increasing age.

    David Weston, Newcastle upon Tyne
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    It’s impossible to argue against these proposed measures, but the imposition of such restrictions might well influence the voting decisions of the young and the politicians will always look after themselves before considering the lives of the electorate.

    David Daw, Bury St Edmunds
    Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

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