Road safety charity calls for tighter restrictions on new drivers

More needs to be done to improve the safety of young drivers and their passengers, according to IAM RoadSmart.

The road safety charity argued that the issue of deaths of young people in car crashes should to be given equal attention to knife crime and drugs in government plans.

And it repeated its call for tighter restrictions on young new drivers to help reduce the number of serious and fatal crashes.

Addressing the House of Commons Transport Committee as part of its investigation into cutting the number of crashes involving those under 25, Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “The risk factors are well known; lack of experience in all traffic conditions including rural roads, darkness and poor weather, distraction by peer passengers or mobile phone use and alcohol.

“Choosing restrictions to limit these risk factors should be the key objective of the government in creating a new graduated licensing system that is practical, affordable and effective in reducing young driver road deaths and injuries.”

IAM RoadSmart wants to see road safety education becoming part of the National Curriculum, with theory and hazard perception training and testing taking place in schools.

It supports a 12-month minimum period for driving lessons and says that the practical test should include a wider range of driving conditions, from rural to high-speed roads.

The charity also “strongly supports” the development of a post-test phase to the licensing system. After passing the practical test, refresher and eco-driving lessons should be taken before full licence status is granted, it suggests.

Alongside these interventions, IAM RoadSmart supports graduated licence controls in the first months of driving to allow only one peer passenger (but no limit on older passengers) and a zero blood-alcohol limit.

However, the charity does not support night-time curfews on young drivers as it says they reduce opportunities to gain experience, impact on the economy and job prospects and raise problems of enforcement.

Pointing out that road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK, Neil said: “It is time that the government took this seriously at last and show that it cares for the young people of the UK by supporting fundamental changes to save these valuable young lives.”

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