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Would Tougher Rules Make Safer Young Drivers?

Would Tougher Rules Make Safer Young Drivers?
George Trout
  • On June 7, 2016

A study conducted by Brake, the road safety charity, has been feverishly circulating the internet in recent weeks. It highlights the UK population’s less than positive outlook on young drivers, showcasing their strong support for imposing tighter restrictions.

Here are some of the stats Brake collected about what restrictions should be enforced on young drivers.

stats for the study conducted by brake the road safety charity

Why do people have these scepticisms?

Research has regularly shown young and new drivers are the most likely to be involved in road accidents. For example, though 17-19 year olds only make up 1.5% of road users, they account for 9% of road deaths.

Research by ROSPA also revealed that 60% of people don’t believe the current driving test adequately prepares 17-24 year olds for the road.

Will change make things better?

People are rushing to the conclusion that change needs to happen for roads to become safer, with the counter arguments being seemingly neglected. We at InsureLearnerDriver think these arguments deserve to be noticed.

Increased prejudice towards young drivers

Young drivers are already stigmatised; advocating these changes will only solidify those stigmatisations.

Psychologists believe that prejudice has a major effect on the emotional development of a person. By restricting young drivers’ road use, for doing nothing more than being less experienced, these suggested changes are likely to cause an emotional reaction from young people. This could include anger and resentment to other road users, who are not penalised.

Could it increase illegal car use?

In the past few years there has been a noticeable decline in the number of 17-25 year olds without full licences. Gov’s research suggests some of the key reasons for this are…

  • The difficulty of the test
  • The learner being too busy
  • The cost of learning to drive

With suggestions of making the test more difficult & extending the learning period, learners will have to spend more time and money on practice, to obtain their full licence. This may put young people off even further. HoweverFbrake it may not stop them from taking to the roads regardless.

According to the AA, there are an estimated 800,000 unlicensed drivers in the UK, with 1 in every 40 drivers being unlicensed. This number could well increase with young people who want to drive, but can’t afford to learn.

Will it stop a young driver’s pre dispositions?

Brake has done previous research into the behaviour of young people whilst driving, which revealed that young people tend to take more risk taking behaviour.

The report explains that a young person’s larger pre frontal lobe, pre disposes them for risk taking behaviour. If this behaviour is biologically affected, making changes to the law would not affect their risk taking behaviour.

Will it stop purchasing habits?

Though there are proposed restrictions on the engine size and number of passengers a new driver can have, there are no restrictions on the age of the vehicle.

Commonly, young people like to save money by purchasing older, less safe, second hand vehicles.

In the UK, the average age of a car’s initial registration is 8 years, with almost 22% of cars being registered before 2003. If we want safer young drivers, then limiting what vehicles are affordable to young people is not the way. More lessons means more expenses which means less expendable income to be used on a decent, modern car.

Should we be comparing our young drivers to other countries?

Government officials have looked to boost driving standards; drawing inspiration from the stricter rules used in other countries.

The country that is usually noted for comparison is Finland. They are recognised as having some of lowest recorded accident rates in the world and some of the strictest conditions for learner drivers to achieve. For example, 2 years of driving experience is required before a learner can take their driving test.

But is this a fair comparison?

The UK has just over 1,800 fatalities a year, due to car related incidents. Finland only has 250. But, the UK population is larger by almost 60 million people and has over 30 million more vehicles on the road.

Though Finland may have less fatalities, comparing the accident rates between these two countries is a little unfair with the population and overall vehicle use being so different.

What do you think?

It’s hard to say whether implementing changes would make a positive difference to society, but it’s important not to just take these surveys at face value. You need to evaluate all potential angles before coming to a conclusion.

What are your thoughts on introducing these laws?




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