A large proportion of novice driver collisions are due to “failures of attitude” rather than skills deficits, yet the Select Committee report appears to target improving skills rather than changing attitudes, according to the RAC Foundation.The Committee recommends that young drivers should not be able to carry teenage passengers at night until they are at least 19 rather than trying to educate drivers about the added dangers of driving at night with a car full of passengers. These proposals discriminate against responsible young drivers, particularly in rural areas, who would now need to take a car each to go the cinema if the movie ends after 11pm.
There is also a danger that the additional financial burden of taking lessons over a minimum learning period may encourage some not to take their test and others to drive unlicensed.
Commenting on the report, Edmund King, executive director of the Royal Automobile Club Foundation said:
” It is essential that we end the carnage of novice drivers but we are not convinced that this report advocates the best way of doing this. Government evidence shows that young drivers are more likely to crash due to the wrong attitude rather than the wrong skills. You cannot legislate to change attitudes but you can educate to change attitudes.
“A minimum learning period does not guarantee good driving but competence based targets would help to achieve it.
” The report seems to gloss over the fundamental basics of road safety which are essential for young drivers. A third of the people dying in collisions are car occupants not wearing seat belts. This is not about graduated training, this is about basics; belting up before you go.
“Seventeen per cent of road deaths still involve drink-driving and a third of drink-drive accidents are caused by drivers under 25. Again, these are basic road safety messages that require ongoing education and enforcement.
“We should not be too distracted by looking at minimum learning periods until we address the basics. To address the basics we need a greater police presence out there to actually be a deterrent to drink-drivers and to enforce the law. We also need road safety and driver education in the national curriculum (as recommended in the report) and more effective campaigning using social media* to get the messages across.”
NOTES* The RAC Foundation has started to use new methods to get through to young drivers. We are involved with the FIA Foundation in a campaign called Make Roads Safe and we are using new methods to try and influence young drivers involving bands such as Dirty Pretty Things. (See www.makeroadsafe.com)
Copies of the RACF evidence are available on request.