The British Road Safety Statement: Working Together to Build a Safer Road System
As well as delivering fleet driver training I am also involved in training learner drivers. So whist the above report has a lot of information which is relevant to fleet management, I have chosen to focus on some of my thoughts about young drivers.
Disappointing there are no plans to introduce a graduated driving licence despite evidence this has been successful in other countries.
Last August I received a letter from the Secretary of State The Rt.Hon. Patrick McLoughlin answering some of the questions I had raised with my MP about road safety. Whist acknowledging there are too many young people killed on our roads, the Government did not want to unduly restrict the freedom of young people.
However, there has to be a balance between the freedoms of new drivers v safety and not a reluctance to act based upon an infringement of freedom. One life lost driving in 2016 is one life too many. If placing a restriction on the number of friends a new driver can have in their car reduces the risk of driver distraction and the negative influence of peer pressure, which in turn prevents one driver from losing control of their car and killing themselves, their friends or other road users then this has to be a course of action worth considering and at least debating.
Accepting that young drivers are at greater risk does not mean that most young people are not responsible or want to be as safe as they can be. Interestingly, during two recent passenger safety awareness presentations I delivered to 14 and 15 years old students I was trying to highlight the importance of wearing seat belts. In both presentations I was asked, “Why, if wearing seat belts is so important, doesn't every type of transportation provide them?” Why indeed. We know wearing seat belts save lives but are they fitted and compulsory for passengers in all buses and trains? Freedom of choice v transport safety? Mixed messages can be confusing especially when making safe choices can safe lives.
By imposing some additional checks and balances such as restricted driving licences, the risk of young drivers becoming statistics will be reduced. The safety of the road using public at large, which includes young people, should in my opinion, be given greater weighting than the risk of limiting some freedoms for a short period of time for new and inexperienced drivers. These statistics mask the fact that every number is one person killed or seriously injured on our roads.
There is no right to drive. One has to first apply for a provisional licence and then demonstrate competence by passing a test. However, the whole learning to drive process is seen by many as a rite of passage, something to be endured and paid for. Once we have a full licence it is taken for granted. However, how many of us ever reflect upon the fact that driving our car, which we do every day and think little of, is probably one of the most dangerous things we will ever do.
There is no easy answer because if there was then road casualty statistics would have dramatically reduced over the years given the improvements in vehicle technology, road engineering and post-accident trauma care.
Distractions caused by mobile phones are mentioned with a proposal to up the fine and points. However, what about the distraction caused by using hands free? What about the distraction caused by pressing a button in some new cars and listening to your text messages being read to you?
I hope that all of the talking and all of the consultation is worthwhile and actually results in implementation of measures which improve road safety for everyone.
The British Road Safety Statement: Working Together to Build a Safer Road System from can be downloaded:
Also, Brake the Road Safety Charity has many useful resources. Watch these videos and then ask yourself do I speed or use my mobile phone?