Campaign says restricting young drivers is “not the answer”

12.00 | 11 October 2012 | | 10 comments

A campaign that focuses on pre-driver education says that banning young people from driving at night is “not the answer” to reducing casualties.

The Don’t Be That Someone campaign has spoken out in response to a series of measures to address young driver casualties, put forward by the Association of British Insurers (ABI), including limiting the number of passengers they can carry and a ban on driving at night.

Don’t Be That Someone, founded and run by Mike McAdam, reminds young people aged 14-18 years about the dangers and consequences of drink driving, passenger responsibility and the effect drink driving has on individuals, families and wider communities.

In a press release, Don’t Be That Someone says: “Our police are thinly stretched already – they have not got the capacity to police and enforce these policies. And putting these restrictions in place for a short period won’t have a long lasting impact.

“Stopping young drivers doing these things doesn’t fix the root cause of the problem – it doesn’t show young people why it’s dangerous, or the real consequences. You need to educate them – or you’re not fixing the problem.

“The DfT does not currently target pre-drivers in their road safety campaigns – despite research showing young people’s attitudes towards driving safety are established well before being able to legally drive. They’re influenced by their role models – friends and family – and based on personal traffic experiences.

“We need specific educational and awareness campaigns aimed at pre drivers. We need to educate them in a way that’ll engage them, if we want to make a serious reduction in road traffic collisions.”

For more information contact Mike McAdam on 07972463161.


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    I do agree with most of the things that have been posted on here but would say that from what I have read, the majority of countries where GDL has been implemented do report positive outcomes.

    I don’t think we should look at it as restricting young drivers but as introducing them to risks through a phased approach; we know that young people do not have the same respect for the consequences of actions as older people (caveat; there will always be some exceptions).

    Mike is right, “attitudes on driving already start to develop and consolidate long before the actual phase of acquiring a driving license”; surely they start when they are exposed to driving behaviour and standards of parents, family etc?

    Dean – Kent
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    How refreshing to be asked for ideas to try and solve a particular problem. Sadly though new thinking will always suffer from the problems identified by Schopenhauer when he said “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; Third, it is accepted as self-evident.”

    Anybody trying to get a new idea through to the third stage especially in the road safety industry has got a real uphill struggle, but here’s an idea that makes perfect sense and which won’t tread on anybody’s toes.

    Instead of going to the trouble of making a law banning rear seat passengers for new drivers, why not invent a simple rear seat denial device that can be mounted and dismounted by the parents? A couple of those big plastic exercise balls in a net should do it. Problem solved.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    Some interesing comments here and I have been looking at this issue with AIRSO Members. We are not generally in favour of applying restriction to young drivers and in broad terms this means that we cannot support the idea of graduated licences as that would mean putting restrictions in place for there to be any effect. I am equally not convinced by an approach which says we will solve the issue by more and more training. Regretfully getting newly qualified drivers to gain in experience means a level of exposure in order for them to do so and restricting them in this seems contradictory. What we need to find a a way in which we can increase the exposure to increase the experience in some kind of controlled way without imposing restrictions. All ideas welcomed.

    In the course of the coming twelve months AIRSO are going to discuss this issue at various Seminars around UK to which we welcome any interested participants – the first being in Stirling on 5th November and then onto Liverpool for 7th November 2012.

    Graham Feest
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    I recently heard a couple of presentations on GDL and the case seems overwhelming. Education is important from an early age, to engender right attitudes and responsible behaviour but, at the end of the day, there are other issues at play which mean that young/new drivers need to gain their early experiences in a more protected environment. How many of us used a stairgate for our toddlers?

    Michael, Lanarkshire
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    I have two comments re the ABI report. Firstly, although they separate the analysis of males and females in the report, they do not differentiate between them in the recommendations. Could the safer female group be unfairly restricted due to the behaviour of some young males? Secondly, curfewing young people isn’t the answer. You actually create potentially more dangerous situations. For example, if a young person finds that they have insufficient time to get home before the curfew starts, they will be tempted to drive unsafely to meet the deadline, thereby endangering themselves and other road users. Reducing night time speed limits and potentially restricting the number of passengers could be the way forward.

    Simon Rewell, London
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    I agree with the comments so far. Here in Someset we have always believed that education is the key. We run a number of presentations for children and young people and one of them deals with young people in the 14-16 age range. We talk about driving and the dangers and consequences as these youngsters are coming up to driving age, many of the 16yr old already are as moped riders. In addition we talk about being a passenger, about challenging bad driving even if it leads to conflict, about distractions and about withstanding peer pressure.

    There will always be a need for the stick, what we need to do as road safety professionals is to fly the flag for increased education and where we can help to develop the carrot.

    Terry Beale Somerset
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    Thanks Dave and Idris.

    Dr Whalen,
    You have a very good point. The issue of when to educate cannot be fully commented here, but I’d be happy to discuss with you further (or anyone else, if they wish) out of these forums. Please email me, if you’d like.

    But briefly, There are many professionals that have researched this such as; the EU Project DRUID, European Transport Safety Council, Sir Peter North, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to name a few.

    However, can I draw your attention specifically to the EU Project DRUID, that states:

    15 to 17 year olds should be included into the communication, hence attitudes on driving already start to develop and consolidate long before the actual phase of acquiring a driving license

    And totally agree re the Government support, and we’ll be addressing this in the near future.

    Mike, from (London)
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    Graduated licensing has shown that some of these measures work – but not in every country they have been tried. They also restrict the majority of young drivers who are doing things properly.

    The problem is when do we try the education? Teenagers need to be old enough to understand the issues but not too old that they have already formed their own opinions through a variety of factors (e.g. conditioning, peer pressure, personal experience). Getting into schools is also difficult so any concerted effort would need support from the government.

    Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton
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    I agree with the article and with Dave Finney, and would add only these points: as always, the law of unintended consequences applies:

    If insurers restrict younger drivers in terms of number of passengers, and for whatever reason (urgency, illness, accident, no alternative transport) and for no fault of his own more passengers are in the car than the policy allows, that driver is no longer insured. How helpful is that?

    Similarly, how is “at night” defined? Does it vary day by day, or in chunks? Suppose a younger driver is delayed (puncture, short of coolant etc) and is miles from anywhere as he runs out of time. What then? Drive though uninsured, or risk being mugged sleeping in a lay-by?

    Police check insurance using automatic number plate recognition – but that surely has to be on a Yes/No basis, not a check of details such as time of day or number of passengers.

    Methinks they better think it out again.

    Idris Francis Petersfield
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    I can’t disagree with anything Mike says above.

    I am starting to realise, and I think Mike is ahead of me on this, that laws only really work when the public agree and at least 90% automatically comply. The Police are then only needed to deal with, at most, 10%. This improves Police/ community relationships and, in turn, assists compliance. The feedback loop is made.

    If laws restricting young drivers do not have the support of young people, then the feedback loop may be broken and more damage than good could arise. Honest education at earlier ages may well provide greater benefits in the long run.

    Is there any way of knowing what actions young people perceive as dangerous that need attention and what policies they would like to see (and would therefore support)?

    Mike seems to understand the complexity of the issues, and I wish him all the best.

    Dave Finney – Slough
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