Young driver safety ‘swept under carpet’

09.54 | 5 September 2019 | | 1 comment

IAM RoadSmart is urging the Government to give the safety of young drivers equal attention to knife crime and drug use.

Responding to the Transport Committee’s inquiry into young driver safety, the road safety charity says successive Governments have ‘brushed the issue under the carpet’.

Launched in July, the Transport Committee inquiry will scrutinise the current approach to young and novice drivers – with the Government’s commitment to explore graduated driver licencing (GDL) under the spotlight.

In its response to the committee, IAM RoadSmart expresses support for certain aspects of GDL – such as restrictions on peer passengers and a zero blood-alcohol limit – but opposes a night-time curfew as it ‘reduces opportunities to gain experience’.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “The risk factors are well known; lack of experience in all traffic conditions including rural roads, darkness and poor weather, distraction by peer passengers or mobile phone use and alcohol. 

“Choosing restrictions to limit these risk factors should be the key objective of the Government in creating a new graduated licensing system that is practical, affordable and effective in reducing young driver road deaths and injuries.”

Road safety on the National Curriculum?
IAM RoadSmart is also calling for a number of measures to be introduced which it says would ensure young drivers are less at risk when they take to the road for the first time.

This includes the development of a post-test phase to the licensing system – with refresher and eco-driving lessons to be taken before full license status is granted.

Other suggestions include:

  • Road safety education should be part of the National Curriculum – including theory and hazard perception training and testing 
  • A 12-month minimum learning period with an online learning log for learner drivers to complete prior to taking the practical test
  • Updating the practical driving to include driving on high speed and rural roads

Neil Greig added: “Successive Governments have brushed this issue under the carpet which is disgraceful as road crashes are the biggest killer of young people today.

“Yet it gets scant attention in terms of time and effort at the top level of Government and in the media compared to knife crime or drugs.

“It is time that the Government took this seriously at last and show that it cares for the young people of the UK by supporting fundamental changes to save these valuable young lives.”



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    Although as a society we need to recognise the dreadful consequences of collisions involving our younger inexperienced drivers, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that as a Country we have one of the best road safety records in the World. Our existing education, training and testing processes are well-structured and well-respected. Take the positives and build upon these, more young inexperienced drivers don’t feature in casualty figures than do. Do future measures being considered and/or implemented need to be based on wholesale changes? Far better that they are targeted and properly thought through.

    alan prosser, Stafford
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