The issue of deaths of young people in car crashes has been “swept under the carpet” by successive governments despite road crashes being the biggest killer of young people today.
Although young drivers are involved in 20% of fatal and serious collisions – despite drivers aged 17-24 only accounting for 7% of the UK’s driving licence holders – the issue 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, according to IAM RoadSmart.
The charity has reiterated its call for tighter restrictions on young new drivers in response 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
Greig added: “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.”