Road Safety News

Council provides training incentive for young drivers

Friday 19th December 2014

Scottish Borders Council (SBC) has allocated almost £50,000 to incentivise young drivers to take an advanced driver course provided by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

Any driver under 26 years of age living in the Scottish Borders can take part in the four-session Skill for Life course, and if the driver passes the fee of £149 is refunded in full by SBC.

SBC says the scheme, which began earlier this year and is supported by former British Touring Car champion John Cleland, has attracted interest from other councils in Scotland.

Paul Richardson, SBC’s community safety officer, said: “These young people now have skills which ensure they will be safer drivers, which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

“Along with additional skills, there is also the potential for cheaper car insurance.”

Pat Doughty, IAM operations director, said: “The course not only helps improve their skills and anticipation, but also confidence, which means driving can be a more enjoyable experience. More than 400,000 have taken the advanced driver course across the UK.”



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On reading an article about police riding courses for Hertfordshire Constabulary, it clearly states that they undergo 20 days of training. That's 4 weeks.

For that 4 weeks they probably split the day half and half with actual riding that's 80 hours in the saddle and the rest of the day on theory principals and practises etc. Each evening would have 2/3 hours of homework and all this condensed course in order to be a police rider class 1. Following all the assessments a rider who completes this gruelling course has a final assessment and if successful becomes a police motorcyclist.

Only then may he or she be considered for Advanced motorcyclists if they appear to be more capable than most. And so are selected to undertake further police training but now in order to work as a team member, doing escort duties of heavy loads or convoys or cavalcades etc. Specialist stuff.

And the IAM in this case propose to give at best 10 or 12 hours and an assessment to be the best and safest riders and call themselves Advanced... I think not.

I know its over 150 but please publish it.]
Bob Craven Lancs... Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

I was actually hinting that despite specialist driver training, even police officers (and other professions) don't always get it right - for whatever reason - maybe complacency, over-confidence, self-discipline and just simply variations in ability and in the conscientious application of their respective training.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

A quick read of the above link will show that the accident rate prior to the development of the system was approximately 1 in 8,000 miles. Nearly fifty years later the rate is 1 in 26,000 miles for car drivers, and much better than that for motorcyclists. This 'study' uses a large amount of drivers, probably many more than any of the other studies quoted here by people who claim that training does not work.

I agree with Hugh that the weakest link is a driver's attitude, and that alone governs whether any training will achieve its goal. In the Police environment where crash causation is decided by a merciless Garage Sgt., with immediate suspension from driving as a likely consequence, it does tend to focus one's mind on doing things as one was taught to do, or suffer the consequences. If the driving of the public was monitored with similar vigour, and they were better trained in the first instance, we might indeed kill and injure fewer people.
David, Suffolk

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

Yes I agree wholeheartedly that attitude towards safety is important and greatly misunderstood. We have to start from somewhere and education is generally where we start with anybody and with everything under the sun. If we get the basics wrong what chance has a person with little or no prior or alternative knowledge of anything different got to able them to do it right.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

If a motorist is able to receive further instruction/training etc in whatever capacity and from whatever source - whether it be IAM, Driver Improvement Scheme, Speed Awareness Course or even specialist driver training the Police receive - it is still down to the individual to always put into practice whatever they have learnt. The quality and good intentions of driver education schemes are not necessarily the problem, it's the end-user.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (2)

I would not disagree with you one iota but perhaps the question that I posed is.... is it constructive? Judging by the stats mentioned by Dave Finney it is not. The IAM, quick to respond earlier, seems somewhat quiet about these figures.

When I was working as an instructor/examiner/trainer for a well known first aid organisation I believed that (it) was not only required that a person or organisation pay for a course but that they should only pass it if I and others including the doctor were perfectly satisfied that they were up to the job, proficient and capable of rendering first aid and saving life. I did not believe that is was justifiable being given a certificate just for the payment.

What I am saying is that those organisations that train persons, if they were DSA registered that should be subject to scrutiny and examined occasionally and the same should happen with all other agencies be they professional or charitable. If not we will go on presuming that what a student is learning is going to be of benefit to them in the future, or a waste of their time and monies. I do not believe in giving certification unless it is earned, otherwise it has no value at all to anyone.

I don't mind picking holes as I believe that's important. If something is requiring examination to at least prove that it works then let's do it rather than bury our heads and say well that's taken care of by someone else. If the status quo isn't working look to get rid of it and replace it with something that is. So many initiatives have come to nothing and we then need to move on to something else. Or improve what we have to make it viable.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

Is just "doing something constructive" like offering a training course sufficient to fix the underlying problem? The research shows that it isn't so we need to take a different look at the problem and come up with solutions that can fix it. I don't think anybody here is picking holes, they just seem to want to know why it is that more training does not seem to be able to solve the problem.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (5) | Disagree (6)

At least the IAM and Scottish Borders are doing something constructive - rather than just sitting back talking and picking holes in initiatives......
Ian Gloucestershire

Agree (19) | Disagree (4)

Dave - your proposal for a trial would not generate enough accident data to be statistically significant. I wonder though whether there is enough accessible data to provide at least some insight?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

I am all for training and as is well known I have advocated further training many times in the past. On reading Dave Finney's response to the press office IAM I am somewhat disturbed by the stats he presents. I have for some time now been concerned to find out just how many Advanced Drivers/Riders are indeed involved in incidents and if Dave's statement is right there appears to be little differential between those trained and those that are not. 0.9% compared to 1.1%. Deaths alone. Just 2 in 1000 deaths separate the two between trained and the untrained.

That to me is an atrocious state of affairs considering the costs and numbers of trained persons involved. Over an estimated £40.000.000 spent over the years with the IAM (representing a course charge averaging £100).

I have never believed that a few 2 hour sessions is sufficient training to make one an Advanced Driver or Rider and maybe when this initiative is being brought down further to 4 sessions only it begs the question as to the validity of the experience and of the training given. I question as to whether it is value for monies and fit for purpose. Personally I would like to see at least 20 or more hours of development of a persons skills with follow ups before the accolade of Advanced Driver/Rider is ever considered.
Bob Craven Lancs Space is Safe Campaign

Agree (12) | Disagree (4)

We know that education and training works and works well in many industries so why isn't it working so well in ours? A good example of a training system that does work is the IMC (Instrument Meteorological Conditions) upgrade to the Private Pilots Licence. Since its introduction in the 1960's it has had an astounding success rate with only one fatal accident being recorded as involving an IMC holder in IMC conditions!

There are probably two reasons we aren't doing as well as we should be.

1) We don't fully understand how the system that we are training people to use fails so our training system will reflect that.
2) The road transport system would resist any amount of training due to the randomness of accident occurrence.

It is our little group's contention that it is the first of these two options that represents the real problem. The solution then is for the road safety industry to let go of its long-held beliefs and find out how the road transport system actually does work rather than how we think or would like it to work. Better understanding of how the system and its users interact and fail would lead to better training methods and ultimately fewer casualties!
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

Post-test driver and rider skills development is a vital component of any road safety strategy. However, both Duncan and Dave make very important points. Are the current post-test skills development opportunities on offer doing what they are designed to do? There may be some brilliant examples of best practice out there but if those who could really benefit from what's on offer aren't aware of what is available, the first class products won't reach the target market.

Dave is bang on the nail. We need to measure the effectiveness of post-test skills development using accurate and reliable methodology.

If, after appropriate trials, the conclusion is that there are examples of very effective post-test skills development out there, it the has to be effectively marketed so that those who would really benefit from it are aware of the opportunities, and very importantly have the desire to avail themselves of it. This will be the real challenge - hence the need to be innovative and 'think outside the box' with regard to the design and development of new marketing strategies; that's why I'm in favour of brave initiatives like the sexy crossing patrols reported on this site recently. There isn't any guarantee that schemes like these will work, I doubt if there ever can be, but we never know until we try; then we learn (hopefully)from what didn't work as well as it might, refine and modify it in the light of experience - and try again.

We can debate and pontificate about different strategies and interventions until the cows come home, and healthy debate and exchange of ideas and views is vitally important - one of the reasons why this site is well respected. But we must do something, and up and down the country dedicated road safety practitioners are doing just that and doing their best to evaluate what they do.

One day vision zero may be in sight but realistically I would suggest that it's some considerable way off and we've got a long way to go before we get there, but we've got to continue on the journey and there will be lots of obstacles in the way. Let's keep plodding on - human life is too precious not to.
Mark - Wiltshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

The “evidence” that the IAM press office points to appears to be based upon an accountancy exercise conducted by Baker Tilly.

The alternative evidence as supplied through links posted by Duncan, show a very different scenario. Driver training comes over as something desirable to improve driver ability and which is expected to result in fewer accidents. The evidence through the several links supplied show otherwise, including overconfidence and a willingness to extend a preconceived ability gained through training.

The link to the report by Kraus, S. J. 1995 ‘Attitudes and predictions of behaviour’ suggests (as do others) that the highest benefit to road safety is through hazard perception, and perhaps more importantly – behavioural attitudes. Road safety in essence is an attitude of mind. That attitude is affected by our lifestyles and desires, if driver education were to focus on why we drive, the purpose of driving, and that time is not of the essence of personalised travel and that convenience is – we may yet attain a greater degree of road safety – if indeed that is the goal. Why should it not be? After all, every death is a tragedy for one family or more, and we would wish to avoid that tragedy. But we also need to take into account the vast number of vehicle miles travelled with no incidents; the number of pedestrian miles travelled with no incidents, and balance all to realise that zero incident rates are an impossible dream, human nature sees to that. Yes, we need education – but the right kind from day 1 and beyond.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

Why not use some of this money to place a gps tracking device in each of the participant's vehicles and make it a requirement for participation in the program? This way you can monitor the behaviour of the young drivers to evaluate the effectiveness of the advanced driving course. Better still, just fit the devices and monitor the behaviour, then offer coaching to those that need it.
Tony Bowis, New Zealand

Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

The IAM report states: "The fatality rate in crashes for advanced drivers is 0.9 per cent compared to 1.1 per cent for the wider motoring population" but there is no evidence that it was their training that produced the difference. The group who choose the IAM training would likely be those who are wealthier and safety conscious anyway, rather than those in higher risk groups. The results in the IAM's report therefore may simply be down to “selection bias”, and nothing to do with their driving courses/tests.

Government funding to improve road safety by training young drivers might be a good idea, but those who will have to repay the debt (the next generation) have a right to expect good quality evidence of what effect it has had. They might not be pleased to find that there isn't any good quality evidence, despite the fact it would be so easy to perform the scientific trials to find out.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

Our evidence shows that those who have taken advanced driving courses/tests are involved in fewer serious accidents and fatalities. Those in the 17-24 age group are at the highest risk, making these courses essential for this age group.
Press Office, Institute of Advcanced Motorists

Agree (9) | Disagree (6)

Certainly Nick.

There are plenty more, but you get the general idea.
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)

If we are going to spend this amount of taxpayers cash on 335 drivers (which is not necessarily a bad idea), why did SBC not do this within a scientific trial? The SBC could have put IAM training out as a prize for young people to win, selected applicants into pairs and randomly assigned one in the test group (IAM) and one in the control group. After perhaps 3, 4 or 5 years, compare injury rates in the 2 groups (from STATS19 and/or HES figures).

Had SBC performed this simple scientific trial, we would know in time whether the IAM course increases or reduces injury rates and, crucially, whether it would be worth spending even larger sums training more young drivers. It would also have been the first ever scientific trial of injury rates in road safety GB.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

Can you provide the evidence please?
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (14) | Disagree (2)

Yet with evidence now clearly showing that training such as this has no effect on the accident rate isn't this a waste of taxpayers money?
Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon

Agree (4) | Disagree (12)