Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart says young driver and passenger deaths are being ‘swept under the carpet’ in comparison with the problems of knife crime and drugs. It wants the issue to receive more attention from legislators.
“Successive governments have brushed this issue under the carpet, which is disgraceful as road crashes are the biggest killer of young people today,” said Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research.
“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.”
The charity has, in response to a road safety enquiry by the government, recommended new restrictions on young drivers, to better protect them in their early driving career. In its submission to the Transport Committee investigation, it highlighted the risk factors young drivers present and face.
“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.”
The charity wants road safety education to be a part of the National Curriculum. Elements of driving theory, it says, should be taught at school. When it does come to lessons, IAM Roadsmart wants a minimum 12-month period of learning, with an online log to be completed before a practical test.
It also wants the test to cover a wider range of driving conditions, from rural to high-speed roads. This means expanding test environments to include everything from B-roads to motorways. In order to get a full licence, it also wants learners to partake in a post-test phase. This involves a refresher course as well as eco-driving lessons. Only then would a full licence be given.
There is also a suggestion of new limits for new drivers: a one peer (someone their own age) passenger limit and a zero-tolerance blood alcohol policy. The latter is a blanket policy for all drivers in Scotland.
What it doesn’t want limited is where and when newly-passed drivers can drive. All conditions should be ‘available’ so that they may accrue valuable experience.