Aged 17, I thought I knew everything. When I was 18, I knew I knew everything. The trouble with experience is that you don’t know you don’t have any until after you’ve experienced whatever it was, and hopefully lived and learned from it.
When I first took to the road it was on a motorbike. Now, I can recall scant regard for speed limits and I recall being on the wrong side of the road through hard cornering more than once. I seemed to have no sense of mortality and it’s a wonder I survived at all. And I bet you were just the same.
Most of us may not have a young driver workforce; or we may not allow children of employees to drive our company cars, but our drivers are still using the same roads as those young and inexperienced drivers and will be involved in collisions with them.
So the news that Government wants to tackle young driver safety is good. A green paper to be published later this spring is expected to include proposals such as enabling learner drivers to take lessons on motorways, increasing the existing probationary period from two to three years, during which a new driver’s licence may be revoked if they receive six or more penalty points, making the driving test itself more rigorous, and offering incentives for young drivers to take up additional training after passing their test.
All of these should lead to a better overall standard of driving, but like so much of the stuff we learned in school, the learner needs to understand the reasoning behind why it is being taught. Statistics show that 19 out of 20 road accidents are caused by poor attitude and behaviour, not vehicle-handling skills, and that one in five young people crashes in the first six months of driving.
What is actually required is a change in the mindset of the youngsters themselves. Straightforward information imparted face to face doesn’t seem to hit the mark because at 18, they know it all anyway.
The crash simulations that Tracy Scarr and Arval took to schools in Wiltshire were well received because the kids started to understand the implications of what was happening, having seen it with their own eyes.
So is there a case for putting “road behaviour” on the national school curriculum? DriveIQ (www.driveiq.co.uk) definitely thinks so and has developed software that educates a young person on the impact that their attitude and behaviour can have by watching serious crash simulations on a computer screen.
Given our own children become road-users and drivers in our businesses, at some point, I am all in favour of any initiative that gets their attention, because at 17 they are not listening to Dad.