4 Young drivers |
Road safety for young drivers
19. Road accidents are the main cause of death
for young people aged 15-24.
In 2010 there were 283 fatalities amongst car occupants aged
16-25. 158 young drivers were killed.
Young male drivers are particularly at risk of being killed or
seriously injured in car accidents. 27% of 17-19 year old males
are involved in a road collision within the first year of passing
their test. The
Government has assured us that reducing the number of young people
killed on the roads is a priority. In its response to our second
report on the cost of motor insurance, the following commitment
It is a particular priority for this Government to
sustain the sharp reduction in the figures of young driver fatalities.
The Government recognises that, for young drivers in particular,
the most effective way of reducing costs of insurance is to reduce
the number of road accidents and casualties for this group and
it will continue to work with the police, road safety groups,
service providers and road users to achieve this. The road safety
strategy proposes a large number of actions and measures, including
on-going and new measures to look at driver training and testing.
20. The Government
describes its strategy to improve young driver road safety as
We propose to make further progress in reducing novice
driver and rider collisions using an approach based on:
- education first - we will continue
to explore further ways to ensure that young people acquire the
appropriate skills and attitudes;
- developing a new post test vocational qualification
- we will work with trainers, insurers and young drivers on an
effective successor to the Pass Plus scheme. This will help newly
qualified drivers to gain the necessary attitudes and experience
to be safe and responsible road users, with appropriate accreditation
and assessment built into the process to ensure market confidence
in the new qualification;
- including safety messages in the theory test;
- modernisation of the driver training industry
so that instructors can offer the range and standards of service
that consumers need, and consumers can make an informed choice
as to which instructor best meets their individual needs; and
- improving the content and delivery of motorcycle
training so that it meets the needs of modern day riding.
The number of vehicle collisions resulting in death
or serious injury involving a young driver (17-24) is an indicator
in the outcomes framework to monitor progress in this area.
During our inquiry we have heard about a range of options that
witnesses thought the Government should pursue to reduce casualties
amongst young drivers. These include pre-driver education, changes
to the driving test and post-test measures.
21. A number of witnesses proposed that young
people should be trained in motoring skills before undertaking
formal driver training in order to embed basic skills and road
safety awareness at an earlier age. PACTS acknowledged that there
is a gap in the educational provision for young people of secondary
school age, compared to the effort put into road safety education
for primary school pupils.
Quentin Willson advocated early driver education as a way of
fostering a safer attitude toward motoring before young people
are "completely corrupted and corroded" by the "awful
mental detritus" of poor road safety messages they might
He highlighted research from Sweden which indicated that early
pre-driver training could reduce KSIs by up to 41% amongst young
drivers. Such a
programme worked because younger learners were "hugely receptive,
anxious to learn and have mastered the all-important below-the-dashboard
techniques before they start learning on public roads."
22. However, others took a more cautious approach
to pre-driver education. PACTS and Brake warned that pre-driver
education risked fostering "complacency" or "overconfidence"
amongst young drivers.
These organisations argued that any such training must not only
be skills-based, but also must actively work to challenge attitudes
and highlight the risks involved in driving.
23. Mr Penning acknowledged that pre-driver education
was an area in which more work could be done, but did not outline
specific plans in this area:
I think that we could be targeting people even younger
than that in understanding not how to drive a car, but the principles
and the dangers involved, and dealing with drink and drugs and
natural peer pressure.
The driving test
24. Many of our witnesses said that the driving
test is not currently fit for purpose.
The Government has made a number of changes to the driving test
since taking office. The DSA told us that the driving test is
kept under "regular review". They explained that there
had been recent action to improve the test:
Initiatives recently introduced or forthcoming include:
- case studies included in theory
tests since September 2009;
- stepping up our encouragement of practical test
candidates being accompanied on test by their driving instructor
since April 2010;
- an assessment of independent driving during the
practical test was introduced into all our practical tests with
effect from October 2010;
- no longer publishing questions currently "live"
in the theory test (from January 2012);
- trialling film clips with road safety messages
in theory tests from September 2011; and
- completion of phase one of a trial to assess
the effectiveness of a new approach to Learning to Drive.
The initial findings are expected in spring 2012.
We recommend that the Department
provides an update of the initial findings of the Learning
to Drive programme with its response to this report.
25. Mr Penning told us that he had "looked
carefully" at the test and he believed these changes were
However, he also acknowledged that there was more work to be
done. On this matter,
we agree. For example, the idea of introducing a training logbook
is being explored to track the number of hours training learners
receive and the types of skills they gain.
Brake told us that about 50,000 young drivers each year pass
their test with less than six months' driving experience.
The absence of motorway or night driving from the test was also
26. Different ways of improving road safety
for newly qualified drivers were raised with us during the inquiry.
The IAM advocated post-test interventions to improve driver training.
It highlighted an Austrian example whereby a 33% reduction in
young male deaths on the road was achieved through the provision
of three post-test training interventions.
However, the ABI argued that "if you have a test which means
you have to have post-test training, there is something wrong
with the test."
27. The ABI, alongside others, favoured graduated
licensing instead, which places restrictions on particular types
of behaviour for those who have recently passed their test. In
particular, restrictions on the number of passengers who could
be carried or on night-time driving were proposed.
Brake also favoured graduated licensing as a means for novice
drivers to "develop their skills and experience gradually
over time while their exposure to the riskiest situations is restricted."
Our predecessor Committee called for the consideration of graduated
licensing as part of much needed reform of the driver training
28. Mr Penning told us that he was "looking
very much" at such measures.
However, he was "not convinced about the evidence on graduated
believed existing post-test training "has not worked".
In particular, he noted that young people seeking employment
opportunities could potentially be disadvantaged by restrictions
on their freedom to drive.
The road safety strategy states that "we will work with
trainers, insurers and young drivers to ensure there is an effective
successor to the Pass Plus scheme."
Yet progress in this area seems to have stalled. In addition,
insurers told us that they would not offer discounts as incentives
for young drivers to undertake such training.
29. The ABI told us that "the Framework
does not take a robust approach to young driver road safety"
and we are inclined to agree. We have heard many different proposals
for reducing the casualty rate amongst young drivers during the
course of our inquiry. These cover pre-driver education, changes
to driver training and post-test training or restrictions. We
recognise that some aspects of previous attempts to improve young
driver safety have not worked as well as hoped (for example, Pass
Plus) and that international experience might not be directly
applicable to the UK. Our predecessor Committee called for reform
of the driver training system in 2007. However, we remain concerned
that there is no clear strategy for young drivers, particularly
in respect of the action expected from local authorities and other
parties, despite the Government's commitment to us that this would
be a "particular priority" of its new Strategic Framework.
that the Government initiate an independent review of driver training
to assess thoroughly the various options put forward to reduce
the casualty rate for young drivers and make recommendations about
which are likely to be most effective. We recommend this review
be completed before the end of this Parliament.
57 Strategic Framework p 6 Back
Reported road casualties 2010 p36 Back
Novice Drivers, Seventh Report of Session 2006-07, HC 355-1 Back
The cost of motor insurance: Government Response to the
Committee's Fourth Report of Session 2010-12, p9 Back
Strategic Framework p53 Back
Strategic Framework p74 Back
Q 126 Back
Q 20 Back
Q 20, Ev 151 Back
Ev 152 Back
Q 126 Back
Q 361 Back
Q 147, Ev 150 Back
Work of the Driving Standards Agency and the Driver and Vehicle
Licensing Agency, HC 1610-i,Ev 20 para 17 Back
Q 360 Back
Q 360 Back
Q 363 Back
Q 144 Back
Q 25, Ev 150 Back
Q 20, Q 21 Back
Q 21 Back
Q 25 Back
Q 126 Back
Novice Drivers, Seventh Report of Session 2006-07, HC 355-1,para
Q 363 Back
Q 362 Back
Q 363 Back
Q 362 Back
Strategic Framework p9 Back
Q 24 Back
Ev 112 para 2.2 Back