IAM Calls For More Action on Young Driver Deaths

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has called for the issue of deaths of young people in car crashes to be given equal attention to knife crime and drugs in government plans.

The charity reiterated its call for tighter restrictions on young new drivers in response to the government’s research into how the number of serious and fatal crashes can be reduced.

Friday saw IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s biggest road safety charity, make its submission to a road safety inquiry by the House of Commons Transport Committee, which recently launched an investigation into ways of cutting the number of crashes involving those under 25.

In its submission, 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.”

IAM RoadSmart is calling for a number of measures to be introduced which would tackle this tragic issue and ensure young drivers are less at risk when they take to the road for the first time:

•        Road safety education should be part of the National Curriculum and theory and hazard perception training and testing should take place within the education system

•        IAM RoadSmart supports a 12-month minimum learning period with an online learning log for learner drivers to complete prior to taking the practical test

•        The practical driving test should include driving on high speed and rural roads

•        IAM RoadSmart strongly supports the development of a post-test phase to the licensing system. After passing the practical test, refresher and eco-driving lessons must be taken before full license status is granted

•        Alongside these interventions IAM RoadSmart supports graduated licence controls in the first months of driving to allow only one peer passenger (but no limit on older passengers) and a zero blood-alcohol limit

•        IAM RoadSmart does not support night-time curfews on young drivers as they reduce opportunities to gain experience, impact on the economy and job prospects and raise problems of enforcement

•        IAM RoadSmart is ready to provide its knowledge and expertise in developing the content of the minimum learning period and post-test interventions

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Neil 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.”

Insurance Edge Comment:

A significant percentage of the young driver road crash problem IS drug and knife crime related. This is because gangs are spending their drug cash on high performance cars, selling across county lines using cars and sometimes being killed or seriously injured while driving by rival gangs. You cannot separate the two issues of knife crime and under 25s road casualties in many cases, even though it isn’t politically correct to do so.

Pretending that restrictions on licences, night driving, passenger numbers etc will make any difference to the boy racers dealing drugs and fighting turf wars on UK roads is ridiculous. Mostly, they – and their vehicles – have no documents, and they certainly have no intention of stopping for the Police if spotted. In fact, such draconian measures simply make life miserable for the law abiding. The solution is to use telematics/app data to personalise motor insurance for the under 25s, and reward smooth, cautious driving.

The other thing that needs to happen in this debate is the complete statistical separation of drivers dying in Police chases, from genuine road crashes, or accidents. A death during a pursuit is NOT an accident, it bears no comparision to a right-turn collision on a wet winter morning on the A5, so let’s all demand a sensible analysis of road death statistics before jumping to conclusions.

Of course those ideas find little favour with politicians from all parties, and some `experts’, all keen to jump on the safety bandwagon and pass more futile legislation. The truth relating to road crash causation is complex, and inter-linked with many factors, not just speed, or time of night. But that balanced approach doesn’t suit many keen to forge a career in the public sector by riding the road safety hobby horse.

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