Improving the safety of younger drivers - the views of IAM RoadSmart

Policy issued on 08/03/16 |
Younger Drivers

Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK today and yet road safety does not merit the same priority as issues such as knife crime or drugs.

Young people have no incentive to treat driving as a skill for life and often seek to learn as quickly and as cheaply as possible. New drivers are most at risk in their first year of driving and yet the current system abandons them to learn by their own, sometimes fatal, mistakes.

The risk factors are well known; lack of experience (in all traffic conditions but especially rural roads, darkness and poor weather), attitude, distraction (by peer passengers or smartphones) and alcohol and drugs. Choosing effective restrictions to limit the effect of these risk factors should be the key objective of the government in creating a new licensing system that is practical, affordable and works to reduce young driver road deaths and injuries.

IAM RoadSmart recommendations

  • 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 support a 12 month minimum learning period with an online learning log for learner drivers to complete prior to taking the practical test. Low speed parking and turning manoeuvres could be assessed as part of this process. There is evidence that around 120 hours of driving experience in mixed conditions would produce safer new drivers but not all of this has to be with a paid for instructor.
  • L drivers are a safe group and there is no case for increasing insurance premiums when they use the family car
  • The practical driving test should include driving on high speed roads
  • IAM RoadSmart strongly supports the development of a 'post' or 'second' phase  test as part of a refreshed licensing system. After passing the practical test refresher and eco driving lessons must be taken before full license status is granted. IAM RoadSmart wants to work with stakeholders to develop the best solution using the resources currently available in the UK
  • Alongside these interventions IAM RoadSmart supports some graduated license controls in the first year/six months of driving, for example to limit the number of  peer passengers (but no limit on older passengers) and a lower blood alcohol limit
  • IAM RoadSmart do 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, as well as on line learning and new recording systems
  • Low income drivers should not be disadvantaged by an extended system of learning to drive. At IAM RoadSmart we believe there is strong potential for volunteers and employers to help all drivers gain a full licence.

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