Road Safety News

PACTS accuses Government of ‘u-turn on young driver safety’

Friday 20th December 2013

A Government consultation paper on improving the safety of young drivers which was due before the end of 2013 has now been ‘postponed indefinitely’, according to PACTS.

In a strongly worded statement, David Davies, PACTS’ executive director, said: “Ministers have admitted that they are reneging on their repeated commitments to publish a consultation paper on young driver safety this year. 

“It looks like a clear case of putting politics before the safety of young people, giving the general election priority over saving lives.

“PACTS is dismayed that the government is not prepared even to consult on such a vital issue which has been left in the ‘too difficult’ pile for too long.

“The general public, parents of teenagers and most young people themselves believe the current testing and licensing do not prepare young people to drive safely.

“Successive governments have not managed to resolve the risks for young drivers and their passengers in the period immediately after passing the test. Disappointingly, this government appears to have the same weak resolve.

“The Transport Select Committee has called for action to improve young driver safety and PACTS will be inviting the Committee to question the Government over its lack of progress.”

For more information contact David Davies on 020 7222 7732.



Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

In addition to the comment about the majority of young drivers who do NOT have crashes.
Since official figures show young males to be responsible for 80% of young driver casualties, is it not unfair to include the young females in any GDL or similar restrictions? Global restrictions like GDL are very poorly targeted at the real problem.
Andy Walker, Bristol

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Only three days ago driving on a autobahn in Germany I was very surprised to find myself overtaking a learner, the experience was repeated in Belgium. My German wife was in shock and horror when she understood only the odd "L" plate driver ventured onto UK motorways presuambly by lack of practice?

Attitudes to training and indeed driving are very different, this "U" turn by Government feels as reckless as the "U" turn performed on the road.
Gareth, Epsom

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

How about all the tens of thousands of young people that do not have serious crashes or kill themselves? As usual these are never mentioned, all we get is the ever more 'big stick' approach because of a tiny minority of transgressors.

Let us keep this in some sort of proportion, we already have enough legislation heaped upon road users. For example the losing of ones licence if six points are amassed in the first two years of passing your test. This has totally failed to achieve its aims, but is still used to 'beat' the mostly younger driver.

It is no good waiting until somebody is seventeen and then thinking you can 'switch-on' some form of 'road safety' program. Road safety should be part of the school curriculum, being a safe pedestrian from an early age, then as children get older a safe cyclist and then motorised transport. Surely schools are not just about education, but the teaching of life skills as well?
Terry Hudson, Whitstable

Agree (23) | Disagree (2)

Whist I am dismayed at the government's apparent apathy towards this issue, I am a bit relieved! I am against any new legislation that involves such things as driving curfews and limits on passengers. More needs to be done in that pre-test period during the lessons. The ADI has a captive audience for the 20-30 driving lessons and we should make the most of that time, questioning their beliefs and attitudes. In Merseyside, Cheshire and other parts of the country this is exactly what is happening with ADIs, police and local authorities working together and sharing experience. Any new legislation will be difficult to enforce. We need to get to the source of the issue rather than applying a 'sticking plaster' to it.
Paul Mountford, Merseyside

Agree (29) | Disagree (2)

How wonderful to read Terry's spot-on analysis of the problem. The two jobs that drivers do, Observation and Operation can only be achieved if those same drivers know exactly what's going on in their brains that allows them to master those tasks in the first place. As far as I am aware there is absolutely no time spent during driving lessons teaching students about brain function, and Human Error modes so it is quite surprising that this woeful shortfall is covered up by insistence on GDL, restrictions and regulations instead.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (17) | Disagree (2)

I believe a big part of the problem lies with the fact that the training people are given to get to test standard is not good enough. The driving test focuses on two aspects 1) car control & 2) road procedure. It does nothing to test attitude or responsibility therefore I believe the test is unfit for purpose. Unlike many instructors I believe we have an incredible opportunity to really make a difference to road safety. We have on average 35 - 45 hours with a client, in a small metal box. A captive audience. That is a incredibly long time to have an impact on our clients awareness and responsibility. To all instructors/parents who focus only on procedure and car control - STOP - and start focusing on the beliefs and attitudes that affect behaviour. Only then will we see a real difference to road safety in this country.

PS: to all those instructors I hear in test centres saying 'I've got them to test standard, I have no control over how they will drive after they pass' hang your heads in shame! As should the people in government who decided this backdown.
Terry - Hertfordshire

Agree (26) | Disagree (2)

Strange isn't it that the accidents that killed some of our friends back when we were young are exactly the same type of accidents that are killing youngsters today.

We survived and our friends didn't, but was this down to luck, or the fact that we knew something that they didn't? If it was only luck that helped us to survive then there is nothing more we can do, but if it was some snippet of knowledge that we had and they didn't, it would be criminal not to find out what it was.

If there is something that us survivers knew and those that died didn't and we don't yet know what it is then no amount of GDL, restrictions and sanctions are going to help.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (13) | Disagree (4)

The AA young driver programme will do nothing to help save lives. Post test training has to be the way forward, such as periodic training much like driver CPC.

Agree (12) | Disagree (7)

Young drivers kill themselves after they pass the driving test, not while they are learning, because there are no restrictions on their attitude, unlike when they are in the controlled environment of being taught/supervised.

Black box technology, and tougher new driver regulations to control post test driving is what is required. Concentrate on where the problem lies.
Dave T, north west

Agree (28) | Disagree (11)

Children learn to drive from a very early age, as young as 2. They pick up the behaviour of their parents behind the wheel. This is where young minds begin to learn about road safety. Today, I have a 17 year old driver on her 6th lesson. She is making good progress and is very conscious of the fact that there are many dangers around her. Yet, within the space of 10 minutes today we were overtaken in a 20mph zone when we ourselves were doing 18mph and again in a 30mph where we doing 30 but the car behind, who happened to be a teacher at a local secondary school, tailgated first before overtaking only to be held up by a long queue of traffic ahead.

I am dismayed that the government has taken this stance. I trust that they will also stop highlighting the number of fatalities of young people on the road and crying out for a change when clearly, the ones that can effect the change don't want to do anything about it.
Craig Preedy, Hereford

Agree (18) | Disagree (5)

Is the rate of collision involvement for young drivers worse now than it was, say, 40 years ago?

Most, if not all of us, were young drivers once and we all survived, so if the system of instruction and examination of 40 years ago (in my case anyway) was good enough then, is it necessarily lacking now? Looking back, does anyone think that they would have preferred, or benefitted from a graduated driving license system or any of the other proposed limitations, when they were in their teens and gearing up to be a qualified driver?

I think the problem is not so much how we lead up to the test, it’s down to how seriously the individual takes their responsibility as a driver post-test and therefore has the desire to continue to learn, that is important.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (22) | Disagree (9)

Young driver training is not 'too difficult' and so long as you know how to train young minds, there shouldn't be a problem. Trouble is that far too few people in the training industry actually do know how to train young minds and so youngsters end up dying as a result.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (18) | Disagree (30)

Totally agree with Tanya and David Davies. I find it hard to believe that two separate reports, TRL and RSA, which suggest that GDL should at least be considered in light of the evidence, have been effectively "dismissed" by Government. So what will the Government be suggesting instead? Wait for more evidence? Both reports appeared to me to make an excellent case to move forward with the consultation. A great shame and a lost opportunity to bring all the road safety stakeholders together with young people and the Government to agree a new direction. There appears to be just "one direction" - backwards.
Rob Smith Dorset

Agree (27) | Disagree (4)

Whilst I agree it is good to start earlier the solution lies simply with much better instructors following a structured learning programme, and insurers insisting on black boxes with reducing premiums every 3 months and penalties such as suspending cover for bad behaviour.
david london

Agree (10) | Disagree (22)

Maybe if all of us drove a little slower and more considerately to others then children could get their early experience and training on the roads through their teens by cycling. And of course get all that independent mobility which they are currently denied.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (20) | Disagree (28)

Unfortunately children learn about driving at an even earlier age as small passengers watching and listening to, often parents, who forget their offspring will pick up on their own behaviour, language and skillset.
Peter London

Agree (47) | Disagree (0)

It is indeed dismaying that the Government have decided to put politics before safety and not move forward with the young driver consultation. The TRL evidence review published this year, alongside our own research into rural young drivers, clearly set out the case for GDL, based on evidence gathered across the globe. The fact that there will be no consultation based on such evidence is disappointing to say the least. There are clear road safety benefits to be gained from a variety of new driver restrictions, including night time and young passenger limits and minimum training periods.

In response to the comments about starting to drive at a younger age, the evidence suggests that early licensure can actually increase novice driver collision risk. This is part of the debate that we should be having with Government as part of the consultation process.
Tanya Fosdick, Road Safety Analysis

Agree (30) | Disagree (6)

Kevin is spot-on in his observation. The best time to begin driver training is at the beginning of the third phase, or apprenticeship phase of brain development that starts around the age of 14. It is at this point in brain development that youngsters can absorb epic quantities of information, far more than is possible even just a few years later.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (16) | Disagree (16)

Drivers need to start earlier to be safer. I started with SOS (School Of Skill) Junior Car Club at 12 years old until 17 years old costing 50p per week on an airfield 7 miles cycle ride from home every Sunday. The AA young/junior drivers training program is the way forward; not increasing the start to drive licence age to 50 years old!
Kevin Ward, York

Agree (11) | Disagree (21)