Changing the Culture and Attitudes to Driving

I was watching the news when I saw a report of a driver being sent to jail for 15 months having been convicted of a serious driving offence. The circumstances were a driver had lost his job, driving his car onto the wrong side of the road, causing a head on collision. The two innocent occupants of the car he hit suffered life changing injuries not to mention the mental injuries they would have suffered after such an horrific collision.

The offending driver had claimed that he had been distracted after losing his job. This got me thinking.

How many of us drive when we are distracted? The distractions we normally think of are hands free mobile calls, texting whist driving, children in the car, the radio, talking with passengers and so on. How many of us consider how our mood, how we are feeling can influence how we drive?

The reality of life means that we drive when we are stressed, anxious or our minds are just on too many other things to concentrate on driving. After all, driving is something we can do on automatic pilot and it is only driving isn’t!

Think again. Think about the two people seriously injured in the above example. Think about some of the road rage incidents reported recently on the national news. Think about the last news coverage of a fatal road collision in the area you live in. Think about the next one……

Most of us take driving for granted. It is something we do every single day and think little about it, other than it’s a convenient way of getting from A to B. The reality is that when we get it wrong, potentially we to could kill or seriously injure another person with all of the consequences the latter comes with. Even a damage only collision has consequences for our next insurance renewal, potential offences of due care, time and effort to sort out the insurance claim along with the additional post incident stress and anxiety we have caused ourselves by being negligent. Negligent? Yes, negligent. Collisions do not just happen. They all have one common denominator, us.

I strongly believe that we need to work towards changing our culture and attitude towards our use of motor vehicles, and more broadly, our attitudes towards road safety. The latter which needs to be taught as part of the national curriculum from a young age up to learning to drive.

Within the UK we are lucky to have a low number of fatal and serious road traffic collison’s. Especially if we divide the millions of miles driven every year with the total number of killed and seriously injured. Although, this number has just increased for the first time since 2003 and, of course, low numbers are not any conciliation if you or a family member are one of the people behind the numbers.

Driving is not a risk free task. Most drivers are responsible and follow the rules. Whilst young drivers are over represented in the road traffic statistics for fatal and serious collisions, being young does not mean being reckless. Most young drivers are responsible.

In my professional opinion, if better vehicle design, road engineering and trauma care have not reduced road collisions to zero, then road safety education has to be our focus. Better road safety education in schools and colleges is a positive way forward. Use of positive peer pressure and the power to say no to getting in to cars driven by individuals who fail to understand their own mortality are all ways of spreading the road safety message and maybe, just maybe, could save a life.

Cultures and attitude need to reflect the potential danger of driving and focus minds upon our personal responsibility to stay safe when driving or using our roads and keeping others safe. How many people take advanced driving lessons? How many parents encourage their family of friends to take part in post driving test training?

Finally, it always amazes me to think that when buying driving lessons, often we look for the cheapest deal and not the qualifications of the trainer. Why is it acceptable to buy 10 hours for £99 or 5 lessons for £9? Would you go to a GP, pilot, lawyer or dentist who went for budget training, focusing on the absolute minimum syllabus in the hope that they never come into contact with anything more than the most basic problems they have been ‘trained’ to deal with?  Driver training is a profession. You are after all trusting your teenager or yourself to a trainer you expect to be well trained and skilled in passing on their knowledge. How confident are you when your son or daughter goes out on their own for the first time, or every time they go out with their friends that they will come home safe. Comforted by the 10 lessons for £99, 1 hour for £9.99 or more confident in the £30 per hour you have paid having spent time on researching the top trainers in your area. Paying the training fee for the time and miles it takes to expose new drivers to different road experiences, speed limits and driving at different times of the day is a training investment worth making. You get what you pay for. The cheaper lessons are not a criticism of my peers. They are however, a criticism of the culture and attitudes we have to learning to drive in this country which needs to change.

Advanced Driver Training

Driving Road Safety Forward

#safedriving #fleetmanagement #roadsafety