Saturday 6 October 2012

The Association of British Insurers is saying that the age group of 17 to 24 are responsible for the largest amount of crashes per road user in their group. The plans to reduce these numbers of accidents are described as ‘radical action’ and are an attempt to introduce a series of restrictions on young drivers to help prevent crashes.

ABI director general Otto Thoresen said, "A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs.”

The proposed plans follow a similar set proposed to go into place in Northern Ireland, and they include a series of restrictions on young road users.

The most striking reforms that they want to put into place are:
  • A ban on learners being able to take an intensive driving course as their sole way of passing the test
  • The introduction of a new licence for the first six months after passing a test called graduated, (like an enforced version of the ‘P’ passed plates)
  • A limit on the number of young passengers in a car with a driver classed as “graduated”
  • A curfew on these drivers between 11:00pm and 4:00am, unless they were driving to and from work or college
  • A zero tolerance on blood alcohol for these “graduated” drivers
  • Young drivers would be able to start learning earlier, at the age of 16 and a half so that a lower limit of a years driving before passing the test seems more reasonable
The ABI backed these ideas up with a number of statistics, that newly passed drivers were the riskiest on the road and that this was only made worse by the presence of passengers.
The issue that seems to come from this though, is that the curfews on young drivers and such imposed limits seem to be a little heavy handed a way of dealing with the issue. With a proposal to massively increase the amount of time before the drivers are allowed to take the test, it would suggest that if this wasn't enough then maybe the issue came from the way in which the drivers were tested. Does a short 1 hour session on carefully scrutinised driving technique give a good representation of a driver’s ability and reliability? Of course it doesn't. How could it, when it does not reflect the standard conditions for driving at all.
While I can agree that the increase in time learning to drive could certainly be of some benefit, it is a high cost to actually put in the extra hours to practice and get extra lessons that not everyone could get through even if they were very competent drivers. As for the limits on the people that have already passed. The need for this simply shines a light on the inadequacies of the system for testing that is already in place. Maybe before we start punishing the majority of young drivers who haven’t caused any issues on the road it would be better to find the issue that exists in the system that is already in place.

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