Changes to the driving test format recently went live. Also, from 4th June 2018, learner drivers will be allowed on motorways under certain conditions. Whilst I welcome both changes, I still strongly believe a lot more can be done to reduce road causalities.
During Prime Minister Questions on 7th February 2018, Jenny Chapman MP asked the Prime Minister about graduated licensing following the death of one of her constituents involving a learner driver.
On 8th Feb 2018 the Department of Transport released the road causality estimates for September 2017. I am not very good at maths but even I can tell there has been little reduction from 2010 to present. The statistics scream out, “What we are doing is not working!” We need to think differently and do more.
We already know many factors increase risk for young drivers. For example, risk taking, peer pressure, driving with a car full of friends and driving at night. So why are we not doing something to control these risks by preventing young and inexperienced drivers from getting themselves into high risk situations. For example, not allowing a car full of passengers, imposing curfews, limit on engine power and so on.
The mentality we have as a nation is that, “It is only driving.” If that is the case, why have we not got zero road casualty figures?
If we can prevent inexperienced drivers from putting themselves in to known high risk situations which potentially result in death or serious injury we can save lives?
The reality is that most of us fail to recognise that driving, or being a passenger, is probably the most dangerous activity we do every day. We fail to recognise the potential risks involved. For example, what could possibly go wrong when two vehicles travel towards each other at speed separated by only a painted white line? Would we be happy with the same level of risk on the shop floor of industry or would we do something about it?
More can be done to focus on how we can influence driver behaviour and reduce risk, particularly for young vulnerable drivers. More can be done to prevent young drivers from putting themselves into situations which we already know are high risk.
I believe that graduated licences provide an opportunity to reduce the number of young people killed or seriously injured on our roads each year.
At the very least, as a nation we need to have a discussion about effective measures to reduce road causalities. It is not just driving. It is the most dangerous activity most of us do each day and yet take for granted.
What about the introduction of road safety into the school curriculum? Next time you are out and about watch how many people of all ages do not know how to safely cross a road.