Teaching Young Pups Old Tricks
Is It Ever Too Late To Teach Young People About Road Safety?
In a report examining the Government’s Strategic Framework for Road Safety, the Transport Committee have urged the Government to step up and provide stronger leadership on road safety; all to the background of recent increases in road fatalities.
In 2011, 1,901 people were killed in road accidents, the first annual increase in road fatalities since 2003 and a 3% increase compared to 2010. 25,023 people were killed or seriously injured, an increase of 2% from 2010 and the first annual increase since 1994. In 2011, 3,085 cyclists were killed or seriously injured. But it is the number of young people aged between 16 and 24 that raises most cause for concern.
On young drivers, the Select Committee said: “The Government should be taking more radical action to address young driver crashes and casualties. We recommend that the Government initiate an independent review of driver training to assess thoroughly the various options put forward to reduce the casualty rate for young drivers and make recommendations about which are likely to be most effective. We recommend this review be completed before the end of this Parliament.”
Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee said: “We are very concerned that 2011 saw the first increase in road fatalities since 2003, with 1901 people killed on the roads. It is shocking that road accidents are the main cause of death amongst young adults aged 16-24 and that so many cyclists continue to be killed or injured. In 2010 there were 283 fatalities amongst car occupants aged 16-25. 27% of young men aged 17-19 are involved in a road collision within the first year of passing their test. If the government is not willing to set targets, it should show more leadership. Action is required to improve road safety for young drivers, including an independent review of driver training.”
And it is this aspect that The Driving Instructors Association picked on when welcoming the report, calling for a revision to the approach to educating young people about road safety. The DIA is also calling for road safety and driver education to be on the national curriculum from an early age and parents, teachers and others involved in the teaching of learner drivers to be involved in ensuring effective driver education.
The transport committee report suggested that the current driver education curriculum is not working and advised that a revised system be introduced that would include both night and motorway driving – although the latter would require a law change due to learners not being allowed to travel on the motorway system. The DIA commented: “The government has been tinkering around the edges in the last few years when what is needed is wholesale reform and a cradle to grave educational approach.
“Too many learners are put under pressure by parents who don’t think through the consequences of poor driver education and end up bargaining their children down to the least number of lessons at the lowest price.”
In fact, looking at it in comparison to other ‘life’ lessons that children are taught at school in their teenage years, such as drug and sex education (now part of the national curriculum,) road safety is well down on the list of necessities. In fact, Mike Frisby of the DIA points out: “Getting in a car is the most dangerous thing most people will do – where else in life would we leave our children so unprotected?”
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “MPs are also right to raise young drivers as a priority. There is still much more that we can do in terms of training young drivers to give them the experience they need to be safe. The government could save lives and reduce insurance premiums by investing in training for young drivers beyond the L test.”
The DIA’s comments were backed up by road safety charity Brake and their deputy chief executive Julie Townsend,: “Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of serious road crashes, and often young people themselves are the tragic victims. The government must act decisively to tackle these crashes. Brake recommends a system of graduated licensing, including a minimum learning to drive period, so young drivers build experience gradually while less exposed to the riskiest situations. It’s been predicted this system could save 200 lives a year in Britain.”