Like any Mum, one of my biggest worries is anyone hurting my daughter. But there is also the fear of her hurting someone else, and there is nothing more likely in that respect than when she starts to drive. Thankfully, I am in the position of being a DSA Approved Driving Instructor and am armed with first-hand knowledge which I share with Grace at the tender age of 5. It doesn’t mean that I can protect her from other peoples actions, it just means that I can provide her with the information she needs to drive safely and make sensible decisions.
Brake, the road safety charity in the UK, run a campaign called 2Young2Die and I am proud to say that I am one of Brake’s buddy instructors. This provides me with handouts for all my students regarding the dangers of driving such as drinking and driving and driving when tired. There is also a leaflet giving advice on how to overtake safely – something that alludes many more experienced drivers.
Road crashes are the biggest cause of disability and death amongst young people. Research and casualty data shows that young drivers – in particular young male drivers – are at a much higher risk of crashing than older drivers. In the UK, only one in eight driving licence holders are under the age of 25, yet one in three drivers who die are under 25. Other information shows that an 18-year-old is more than three times likely to be involved in a crash as a 48-year-old one in five new drivers has a crash within six months of passing their test.
Why is this? Well, Brake believe that there are a number of reasons, of which I agree with. These are as follows:
- lack of experience
- over confidence and risky driving
- feeling they are invincible
- being overloaded mentally
- peer pressure
- inexperienced at driving at night
- carrying passengers i.e. their friends, who distract them
- alchohol and drugs
Thankfully, I have taught some very sensible individuals and am not aware of any of my students having a serious accident. I am very aware of safety and try and teach them the dangers. I am grateful that they listen to me, although that is not always the same when it comes to the parents!
I distinctly remember pulling up in my car once lunchtime as my mobile rang. It was the father of one of the girls I was teaching. He rang me to express his disgust that, despite the fact that she had been learning for six weeks, she wasn’t ready for her test! Now, a week earlier I had this young lady in my car crying because one of her friends had died in a car accident on the A3. He had no seatbelt on and had been playing with his radio. He took his eyes off the road and crashed into the central barrier and was killed outright. Needless to say I had to remind the father of the fact that his daughter was driving a killing machine that could either harm her or someone else. I wanted to ensure her safety was paramount and was not prepared to risk this by putting her forward for her test too early.
I have a couple of concerns about the course of learning to drive in this country. Firstly, driving lessons with a qualified instructor are not compulsory. Secondly, is the fact that you are able to take a test at anytime whether you have had a lesson or not. There have been a number of times where I have been sitting at a test centre waiting for my student to return and I have watched an examiner walk back through the door and approach one of the people in the waiting room to tell them that the person they have brought is too dangerous and they have had to abandon the test and leave the candidate sitting in their car some 3 miles away!
So, how can we improve the safety of our younger drivers? I have my opinion and it is very similar to Brake’s graduated licensing. These include:
- a minimum of 10 hours lessons with a qualified driving instructor
- the driver accompanying the learner should be at least 25 and not the current 21-years-old
- drivers should hold a ‘novice’ licence for two years after passing their test
- the amount of passengers a novice driver carries should be restricted
- novice drivers should not be permitted to drive between 11pm-6am unless supervised or travelling from home to work or school
- novice drivers should have a zero tolerance of drink driving (which I should be applied to all drivers actually!)
There is another way that young drivers can improve their skills and that is through a course I offer called Pass Plus. This course consists of a minimum of six hours extra tuition after you have passed. It takes into account many different types of driving including motorways and driving in London. Once the course is complete, I sign it off and the DSA provide the driver with a certificate which will enable them to claim a discount on their car insurance.
Safety when driving is important to anyone of any age. Lets make sure that the beginning of a young persons driving career isn’t also the end of it.
For more information on safety and young drivers, please go to http://www.brake.org.uk
I have recently returned to Driving Tuition and am pleased to be able to offer lessons in the Crewkerne/Chard/Yeovil areas. If you quote VEVIVOS then I will give you your first lesson completely FREE!