Roddy Graham's Blog: 8 August 2007
08 August 2007
My favoured approach would be to grant a restricted driving licence with all those passing their test having to display...
How to improve driver safety
Interesting and not too surprising is news of the Government's proposal to raise the minimum legal driving age to 18. Irrefutable is the fact that young drivers are involved in more accidents than their elder counterparts. Indeed, no fewer than 27% of teenage male drivers are involved in a motor accident in their first year of driving. So the Driving Standards Agency is preparing a consultation paper due out in October.
Contained within the document will be proposals for a 12-month training period for new drivers, preventing 17-year-olds from holding a full licence until they are 18. There will also be zero tolerance on alcohol consumption for the first 12 months with those caught with any alcohol in their blood forced to re-sit their test. Government is even contemplating restricting motorway driving.
The Department for Transport reveals that according to its research up to 1000 deaths and around 7000 serious injuries could be saved as a result of the above proposals. We are one of the few countries in the EU to allow 17-year-olds to have a full driving licence and such measures would be backed by the Association of British Insurers.
I'm all for it myself. Anything that saves lives is a good thing and it is no surprise that vehicle rental companies have operated minimum age limits for years, all with good reason. The accident figures all support the view that young drivers are most at risk.
Apparently Government thought about introducing such measures some five years ago but was concerned about a public outcry, especially from those living in rural areas. With around 70% of 17-year-olds driving themselves to work and poor public transport in rural areas that is understandable.
But there are wider considerations here. Unless Government goes ahead with a minimum school leaving age of 18, such proposals could impact the economy to a small degree.
My favoured approach would be to grant a restricted driving licence with all those passing their test having to display a sign on the front and rear of their vehicles advertising the fact that they are novice drivers. What form the sign takes I'm not too hung up about but what is good for motor sport (a black cross on a yellow background) should be good for the road.
Drivers with 'novice' signs should be allowed to use the motorway system but be restricted to the first two lanes and be banned from using the outer faster overtaking lane.
The 'novice' signs should be displayed for 12 months after which, if the driver has not had an accident, then they can be removed. Those involved in an accident should have to keep the signs displayed for 12 months from the date of the accident. Those involved in three accidents before they are entitled to remove their 'novice' signs should be required to sit an advanced driving test and go back to 'go' for 'novice' sign display.
Lastly, the ABI should be encouraged to provide lower premiums to all drivers who pass the Institute of Advanced Driving Test or similar. Very few insurers consider giving discounts to IAM drivers and they should. The IAM promotes advanced driving technique and consideration for all other road users. And you couldn't have a better aim than that.