Inexperience is a major issue on the UK’s roads.
Young or novice drivers, typically those aged between 17 and 25, account for 20 per cent of deaths on the road, despite them making up only 7 per cent of full licence holders, and the fact that they drive less mileage than their older counterparts.
And they don’t just pose a risk to themselves – in 2014 342 people were killed in accidents involving young drivers, with 136 of those being other road users, 86 passengers of young drivers, and 120 young drivers themselves.
Sadly, despite a number of changes introduced over the past few decades to target this issue, the situation has remained broadly the same.
With this in mind, the Government recently launched a consultation on potential changes to the driving test.
This would include extending the “independent” driving section of the test, when candidates drive from A to B without instruction from the examiner, from 10 minutes to 20 minutes – something we would strongly support. This extra 10 minutes would allow the young driver the time to demonstrate their ability on an increased range of road and traffic conditions.
Young drivers are most at risk immediately after passing their test and in their first year of driving. They’ll have fast reactions and good control skills, but their lack of experience means they will be poor at identifying hazards and assessing risks.
So, the increased independent section of the test would help to prepare them for the rigours of the road once they are no longer supervised. The training they would receive to prepare them for this part of the test would have a greater focus on the skills needed to drive independently.
As well as increasing this section of the test, the Government is also considering including sat navs as part of the independent driving – again, this is something that we agree with. It would teach the importance of planning a route before setting off, of not touching the sat nav while driving, and of not blindly following the device as the directions given might not be appropriate if, say, there are temporary changes to a road due to road works.
Last year, we called for the introduction of a series of radical measures designed to protect young drivers, which included these Government recommendations. If these suggested changes are made, they should be closely monitored, and if they don’t have much of an effect, then further measures should be introduced, such as:
- A minimum learning period of one year
- A mandatory Learner Driver Logbook for young drivers to record how much and what type of driving they have experienced
You can see RoSPA’s response to the Government here, and to find out more about what we recommend for protecting the lives of young drivers and other road users, click here.
Nick Lloyd, RoSPA's road safety manager
Posted: 9/1/2016 3:14:04 PM