Road Safety News

Survey shows support for action on young drivers

Tuesday 19th May 2015

A new survey published by RoSPA suggests the public would support “greater measures to help keep young drivers safe on the road”.

RoSPA says an “overwhelming number of people” recognise that something needs to be done to protect young drivers aged 17-24 years.

In a YouGov survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by RoSPA, 71% of respondents supported some form of phased or graduated driver licensing scheme, to allow young drivers to build up confidence on the road.

Other findings included: 67% supported the mandatory use of telematics in the cars of newly qualified young motorists for a year after passing their test; 90% favoured further post-test training for young drivers; and 74% supported a lower drink-drive limit for young drivers.

These measures are part of a Green Paper submitted to the newly-elected Government by RoSPA and backed by a number of other road safety organisations.

Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA’s chief executive, said: “RoSPA’s campaign for legislation on the wearing of seatbelts was brought into force after the tide of public opinion forced politicians to sit up and take notice, and we hope that the results of this survey will serve to do the same.”


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These other countries that have GDL did have, and still have, higher KSI rates than we do. We naturally have a lower %age reduction than other countries, as we start from a lower figure.
Andy, Warwick

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

It is not surprising that younger drivers crash more at night - they drive more at night, after college, school etc and the time they can borrow their parents car when it is at home.
Andy, Warwick

Agree (4) | Disagree (3)

Over the weekend there was a very interesting article in The Telegraph on under-age driving clubs. I think you will find that the solution to the young driver problem lies with initiatives such as these rather than the sledgehammer restrictions of GDL.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (8)

Honor, the drink and drugs figures are extracted and discounted because GDL itself extracts and discounts them with the call for zero drug and BAC. You can't account for them with one intervention and then include them again to justify another. I'm sure that most of us wouldn't stand being charged twice for our groceries if we had picked up a bottle of wine, so I wonder why we are asked to stand for the same trick with the GDL figures?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (6)

Simply compiling a list of papers that support your view is not very useful other than for propaganda purposes for that organisation as it is not a peer reviewed evidence based academic study completed by highly qualified people, showing both papers that agree and disagree with the stance of the organisation in a transparent way.

I know that the young are disproportionately pulled over by the police because I for one was one more stop away from a formal complaint for harassment against WY Police when I was in my early 20's (11 stops in one month) and not once did they find anything wrong or give a reason for the stops.

If you are referring to the Australian GDL system I would suggest you experience the very bad, aggressive driving habits over there even with the GDL and large amount of hidden cameras and automated policing.

Education is the key, but proportionate and not burdening people even more than they already are just because of the accident of the time of their birth date. Night curfews are an astonishing measure and hits the majority for the foolish actions of a few and harms employment opportunities. If you are over 18 you should be treated as an adult not a child with all the responsibilities that come with this status.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (5) | Disagree (9)

Whatever your view of BRAKE as an organisation, the reading list is a collation of links to research reports. These are not, apart from one or two, publications authored by BRAKE, who simply compiled the list.

The principle of GDL is to manage and control the circumstances in which novices drive to reduce their exposure to higher risk situations when more collisions involving novice drivers occur until greater mileage experience has been obtained and the risk is then a reduced factor. The evidence supports this.

The night time curfew is not solely based on hours of darkness but also on evidence- based social factors and interactions between driver and passengers - more often at late hours some have been drinking or taking drugs; they are more often leisure trips than utility; group behaviours and dynamics come into play and so on.

Why would you extract and discount the drink and drug driving incidences?

I agree that the entire learning to drive syllabus and mechanism should be reviewed alongside consideration of introducing GDL.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

Just to confirm my thinking the TRL newsletter just arrived and the article from Shaun Helman on page 7 makes for interesting reading. He says in the article "Driver training and education has also sought to make young and novice drivers safer, although generally the evidence has shown that it has failed to have an appreciable direct impact on safety". That should send shivers down the spine of the training industry.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (7)

Thanks for all the links Honor, they have provided some valuable insight. As I suspected most of these reports are no more than glossy advertising tracts designed to sell an idea that is based on some very shaky assumptions. When you start to dig through the data and see the caveats to the findings of the original analysis then things start to look far less certain. What is immediately apparent from all the original research is that 50% or more of the benefits seem to come from a reduction in the overall number of miles travelled due to the restrictions. When the researchers subtract those accidents caused through drink and drugs then the figures start to get fairly close to what you would expect from normal and random variation in the system.

Rather than being a good case for GDL the research actually shows that it is the initial training that is very much in need of attention, not the poor souls that receive the training. A good example is the proposed night time restriction which would undoubtedly have an effect on people that have never been trained how to drive at night! Driving at night is an entirely different situation to driving during the day yet youngsters are expected to learn how to do it without any formal instruction or mentoring. GDL is no more than admission that the way young drivers are trained is simply not fit for purpose as if it were fit then GDL would simply not be required.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (7)

Thanks for the links, I will read them with interest. Could you back up your statement on the over 65 age range being safer? I just ask because out of personal experience with family members driving well after they are safe to do so and the difficulty in persuading them so, which in 2 out of 4 cases ended in more than 5 accidents, 1 serious. To be honest I find Brake to be a bit "fundamentalist" in their views and publications I have read, which doesn't do the organisation any favours in the eyes of the public.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

Your comment differentiating between terminology of older or experienced drivers is well made and I will be more careful with that in future, thank you.

The evidence I am referring to is a number of research studies undertaking over the past decade and more. You can find a very clear summary of the evidence as it relates to the UK compiled by the TRL and available on the DfT website:

The RAC Foundation also produced a thorough report.

For a further reading list of research papers from the UK and around the world, go to:
Honor Byford

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

Honor, are you sure that it's evidence you have got and not just a set of figures that seem to support the GDL hypothesis? In a recent meeting I had with a Government statistician he said apropros some casualty data "these are just figures, they are not evidence". We need to be much clearer on what constitutes evidence especially if it is going to be used as a justification for an increase in costs and added restrictions.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (7)

You have made some very good points but you have also changed the goalposts somewhat. I will have a look and would be interested to see as a percentage if your claims of decreasing accident rates are correct per head of driving population. I think it comes down to increasingly ingrained and general prejudice against younger people in society. You refer to novice drivers and older drivers, not experienced drivers which may be semantics but may also betray the general view that the young are reckless and have little regard for safety which, in my experience couldn't be further from the truth (due to cost implications and increased disproportionate penalties). It is possible to take/pass a driving test at an older age and even given the lack of experience insurance premiums seem disproportionately low.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (5) | Disagree (5)

The key issue is not how many people of any age group have been involved in a collision but how many caused the collision. There is a significant difference in the level of causation between novice drivers and older drivers. If you dig deeper into the DfT Road Casualty Great Britain data tables - available on the website - you will find this evidence. We also look at the rate of collision involvement: if older driver casualty/collision numbers are much the same but there are now more older drivers on the road, then their rate of involvement has actually gone down not stayed the same.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

To be honest I am starting to despair at lack of evidence brought forward to back up claims.

I in no way want to offend but it does highlight the baby boomers generations attitude to the younger generation.

Below is a link to a document published by the House of Commons. It clearly shows on page 13 table 6 that the older drivers have nearly as many accidents as the younger age group.

Looking at the year 2012: from the age range 16-19 years, 470 RTAs; from the over 60s 1351 RTAs. BTW the trend is down in all age ranges with the over 60s showing the least improvement.

Insurance premiums reducing is BTW a laughable claim. I have never, even with 10+ NCD seen my premium fall more than a few £ but when it goes up its by £10's. Telematics is both costly and an invasion of privacy and freedom.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (3) | Disagree (14)

The proposal that older drivers should be tested and re-tested is not supported by evidence and, frankly, I find it offensive to suggest that people should be subjected to a severe testing regime purely on the basis of their chronological age. Older drivers do not cause more crashes than younger or middle aged people.

It is essential that we plan ahead to aim to keep as many older people on the road for as long as they are able to keep driving themselves as safely as anyone else, with the independence and autonomy that brings. Road Safety GB is leading a working group with a number of other organisations and support from the DfT to identify which age related factors are linked to collision involvement and, therefore, what the content of older driver’s refresher sessions or assessments should be.

We are also members of a wider task force that is drawing up an Older Drivers Strategy by looking at all aspects of driving, vehicles, highway infrastructure, social and other issues that affect older people who drive. This task force is led by the Road Safety Foundation supported by AGEAS Insurance and includes academics, AgeUK, engineers, insurers, the police, medical professions and ourselves, among others, to bring expertise from all areas including, most importantly, older people themselves.

In all these issues it is essential that we start with collecting evidence and ensure that whatever we propose is workable, reasonable and effective.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (16) | Disagree (3)

The effectiveness of GDL in various other countries is now well evidenced, which is why Road Safety GB and other organisations support its introduction.

It will have a cost attached but this will be offset by the reductions in insurance costs and the costs to the NHS and other agencies in dealing with fewer collisions and casualties. Installing seatbelts into cars is an additional cost but as a society we require this to be done because we have evidence that it reduces casualties.

We would welcome a UK version of GDL that is designed to suit our road environment and other circumstances. This is an evidence based approach that supports new drivers during those first few months as they gain the skills, judgement and experience that will reduce their involvement in collisions. We should not be surprised that novice drivers are more likely to be involved in (and cause) collisions in their first few months of driving but we shouldn’t just accept this as inevitable. No other industry would accept such a situation. We need to make changes to the learning and licencing schemes that will minimise this and help novices to acquire the skills and judgement they need as quickly as possible. GDL is proven to be one way of doing so.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (13) | Disagree (4)

You would hope for and expect the public to be supportive of “greater measures to help keep young drivers safe on the road”, but sadly GDL isn't one of the measures that will do that. No doubt the ROSPA survey only offered GDL (amongst other restrictions such as curfew and telematics) rather than offering a range of other educational initiatives or changes to the current training and testing regime which is why it polls such a high figure.

The Government is perfectly right in treating GDL with a great deal of caution as the case for it is marginal at best as has been evidenced with its introduction for motorcycle licencing.

The accident problem can only be solved by helping these younger drivers to become better predictors, yet GDL doesn't offer them any way of achieving this essential improvement in their skills.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (8) | Disagree (11)

Given that the population of this country is aging and that the older generation will not have to do this graduation retrospectively I can see why the survey results come out as they do. With much higher living costs in general for the younger generation including insurance, housing, education etc this is just one more extra expense in time and money. I would also suggest a bias due to the readerships agenda. Can we bring in testing on over 55's every 5 years and then every year after 65 with a full medical inclusive of hazard perception, reaction times, eye tests and checks on medical records for medication that would impare driving ability?
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (9) | Disagree (10)

The reader survey currently running on our newsfeed site shows 93% support for Graduated Driver Licensing. We are working work with RoSPA and other organisations to persuade the government and the new road safety minister that this should be adopted for young drivers in the UK. The evidence is strong and the time is right.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (14) | Disagree (6)