Policy - young drivers

Improving the safety of young drivers - the views of the IAM

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Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK today and yet road safety does not merit the same priority as issues such as knife crime or drugs.

Young people have no incentive to treat driving as a skill for life and often seek to learn as quickly and as cheaply as possible. New drivers are most at risk in their first year of driving and yet the current system abandons them to learn by their own, sometimes fatal, mistakes.

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 effective restrictions to limit the effect of these risk factors should be the key objective of the government in creating a new licensing system that is practical, affordable and effective in reducing young driver road deaths and injuries.

IAM recommendations

  • 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
  • The IAM supports a 12 month minimum learning period with an online learning log for learner drivers to complete prior to taking the practical test. Low speed parking and turning manoeuvres could be assessed as part of this process. There is evidence that 120 hours of driving experience in mixed conditions would produce safer new drivers but not all of this has to be with a paid for instructor. L drivers are a safe group and there is no case for increasing insurance premiums when they use the family car
  • The practical driving test should include driving on high speed roads
  • The IAM 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. The IAM wants to work with stakeholders to develop the best solution using the resources currently available in the UK
  • Alongside these interventions the IAM supports graduated license controls in the first year of driving to allow only one peer passenger (but no limit on older passengers) and a lower blood alcohol limit
  • The IAM 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
  • The IAM is ready to provide its knowledge and expertise in developing the content of the minimum learning period and post test interventions, as well as on line learning and new recording systems
  • Low income drivers should not be disadvantaged by an extended system of learning to drive. At the IAM we believe there is strong potential for volunteers and employers to help all drivers gain a full license

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