Every day, four people are killed or seriously injured in accidents involving young motorists, a recent study has revealed.
Whilst driving accidents in general are on the decline in the UK, it is somewhat surprising to discover that crashes involving young drivers are on the increase. Why is that?
The most likely reason is simply one of inexperience and an ability to judge speed and distance in those vital first few years.
Today’s unforgiving traffic congestion no longer gives young people the sort of open roads and room for error that their parents took for granted. Modern road conditions, information overload and the need to dodge endless potholes all conspire to add pressure to the newly qualified driver. That’s before we dial in the ever increasing distractions of the mobile phone and the satellite navigation system.
Uncle Bill and Aunt Maude never had these problems in the Morris Minor back in the day, eh?
A report by British Researchers has suggested that newly qualified young drivers should not be allowed to drive at night and there should be a complete ban on alcohol until such time as they had sufficient driving experience under their belt.
Cardiff University claim that a Graduated Driver Licensing scheme (GDL) could save up to 200 lives a year and avoid up to 14,000 accidents so their report is clearly worth taking seriously. The idea that a newly qualified driver could not drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel nor be allowed to drive at night for the first two years is unlikely to be well received here in the UK – but this system has already been successfully adopted in many other countries.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand already run similar schemes with a great deal of success and Florida California has experienced a massive 40 per cent reduction in teenager passenger deaths and injuries.
However, the AA have not reacted well to the idea. Andrew Howard, head of road safety said “It would give totally the wrong signals to introduce new laws aimed at young people and then not enforce them – many would feel that all motoring laws could be broken”.
Whether that is true or not, it seems clear that the skills required to drive on our roads today far exceed anything that we have ever seen before. Coping with three other teenagers in the car is enough in itself to cause more accidents so any scheme that enables newly qualified drivers to build up their experience sounds a good idea to us.
In fact we would go one step further and say that no passengers are allowed in the back of the car either for the first 12 months. In our experience, the distraction of two young yelling “Kevins” in the back of a car is enough to cause the most careful of drivers to have a panic attack.