Call for more rigorous tests
INDEPENDENT road safety charity, Brake, has revealed research figures which highlight the high proportion of accidents involving young males, and the dramatic decline in incidents as they get older.
The charity also outlined its recommendations for a new learning to drive strategy which would see drivers spending a minimum of one year learning to drive and a further two years driving with specific restrictions in place.
The research was presented at Brake's ninth Road Safety Forum International Congress last month and showed how one young male driver in 60 (in the 17-19 age range) experiences a road crash resulting in the death or injury of themselves, a passenger or another road user.
These crashes are violent, traumatic events that cause great physical and psychological harm, and constitute a significant economic burden.
One in every 451 17-year-old male drivers is killed or suffers serious injury on the road before their 18th birthday. The chance of serious accidents significantly reduces with age and by 19 years this risk is nearly halved to one in every 841.
The statistics were explained by Julie Townsend, Brake's campaigns director, to road safety professionals, civil servants and academics. While asking them to focus on efforts to eradicate sudden and violent death, she highlighted the inadequacies of the UK's current learning to drive system and called for an improved system Brake calls Graduated Driver Licensing.
Under this scheme new drivers would be given the chance to build their skills and experience gradually, with less exposure to higher risk situations. They recommend a minimum learning to drive period of one year before taking a test and, once passed, for the first two years further restrictions would be put in place. These would include reducing the drink drive limit, limiting the number of passengers allowed and restrictions on driving at night. After the two year period another test would have to be taken before a full-driving licence is awarded.
Mrs Townsend said: "There is an urgent need for the Government to show leadership in tackling young driver crashes. It is unacceptable that so many young male drivers are involved in these violent and traumatic events that have a lasting impact on their lives and, in some tragic cases, prematurely ending them. We have evidence that a system of Graduated Driver Licensing would be highly effective in helping to put a stop to this needless carnage."
Brake runs road safety awareness-raising campaigns. Visit www.brake.org.uk for mo
This article appeared in Local Berkshire 13 Jul 11