Young drivers told ‘Don’t drive stupid’

12.00 | 18 November 2013 | | 5 comments

Road Safety GB North East region has launched a new campaign urging young people to stop their friends from "driving like an idiot", citing peer pressure as the key to encouraging young people to drive more sensibly.
"Don’t Drive Stupid" has been launched to combat the "large proportion of young driver accidents" which are "the result of inexperience and bravado, as well as drug and alcohol impairment".

As well as traditional printed resources the campaign includes a viral film published on YouTube and it is also being promoted on Facebook and on twitter.
Despite young drivers holding only 8% of the region’s driving licences, they accounted for 26% of road casualties last year. One in four 17-year-olds who hold a driving licence will be involved in a collision, with the period between now and January seeing the greatest number of accidents. While the majority of accidents occur in the urban centres, within 2.2 miles of the driver’s home, a large proportion also happen on winding, country roads, where inexperienced drivers are more likely to lose control.
Alan Kennedy, road safety manager at Durham County Council, said: “A big cause of accidents involving young people is simply that they are not paying attention, they fail to look properly and are easily distracted.
“Also, many young people believe they are better drivers than they actually are. Some like to show off to their mates, drive inappropriately in poor weather, and always seem to be in a hurry.
“All of that is a recipe for disaster.
“Most young drivers are good drivers, but we want passengers to influence those friends that are not, and to tell them ‘don’t drive stupid’. It could save their lives.”
Road Safety GB North East is also encouraging all local authorities in the region to apply for funding to enable them to offer further driver training to people under the age of 24 who have passed their driving test but have little experience.
Durham County Council offers all young people in the county the opportunity to participate in its free EXCELerate advanced driving school, which is funded through NDORS (National Driver Offender Rehabilitation Scheme).
Alan Kennedy added: “We are not trying to teach young people how to drive – they have already passed their test – but we do teach them the skills to avoid the typical crashes that they are so often involved in.”



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    I completely agree with Lucy that there are other important elements, for example peer group influence – particularly parents, with whom future learners may have sat with for maybe ten years or more. However, the whole ‘getting them through the test’ mentality is definitely there on a broad basis. And it always will be, partly because driving instruction is a commercial activity and the base judgement of the success of a driving instructor (or school) is their test pass success rate. That, inevitably, influences their mind set when they are teaching learners. It has to. It can’t be anything else. Having said there are ADIs out there, such as retired police officers, who really do do it because they firstly want to teach pupils how to be safe and, in a way, the test for them comes second. Which is the way it should be.

    Nigel Albright, TAUNTON
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    I agree that some issues with the training of L drivers lead back to the DSA but ADIs are a handy scapegoat when the stats creep up. I don’t believe there is an ADI anywhere in the UK who would teach a learner to drive at inappropriate speeds and overtake in a dangerous manner! Granted, some collisions are due to inexperience but a lot are to do with the attitude of the driver. Where has this attitude come from? Firstly, we learn from our parents, then our peers and then the world around us. I was an ADI for 16 years and I have not met an ADI in my area who did not teach driving as a life skill and only taught learners to pass their test. However once attitudes are set (and they are at an early age) then it is difficult to change them and some learners will do as they are asked in order to get through the test, making the right noises and then do as they please once they are through the test. Early intervention, addressing parental and peer attitudes are the way forward in tackling the problem.

    Lucy, Scotland
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    Whilst I will run with Paul Mountfield’s sentiments there is a Freudian slip which may reflect a fundamental flaw in the attitude of ADIs in general. He writes,’….The aim of the ADI is not just to get people through the test…’. In my work with advanced driving groups I have always stressed that you are not training people to pass a test. Firstly you are working to reduce their vulnerability to crashes – to improve their safety – and the advanced test is merely a validation of the standard they have achieved. By the same token ADIs should first and foremost be teaching how to be safe on the road, then this is validated by the standard driving test, not the other way around. It’s a key point which they should be getting through to their pupils at the very start of their road driving career. Of course the core of this issue really goes back to the DSA.

    Nigel Albright, TAUNTON
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    The key is to provide a better driving education pre-test and address driver attitude. Schemes such as Engage, Learnsafe Drivesafe and Rated do this via the ADI. The aim of the ADI is not just to get a person through their test but to raise their awareness of post-test issues and scenarios that lead to crashes and to get them to think independently. Once they have passed their test it is very difficult to address.

    Paul Mountford
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    The ratio is far worse than the 8% / 26% figures suggest, because young drivers drive many fewer miles than older drivers. As always, vehicle and driver miles must be taken into account in any comparisons. All the more justification for these efforts.

    Idris Francis Fight Back with Facts Petersfield
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