Does the driving test need updating?

Published: 21/07/2015

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is calling for the driving test to be modernised so that deaths and injuries in road traffic accidents are reduced. The ABI is running a Safe Young Drivers campaign and is recommending a number of measures aimed at young drivers are implemented including: a one year minimum learning period, limits on the numbers of passengers, restrictions in late night driving and a zero tolerance in alcohol. Personal injury solicitor, Kevin Smith considers these recommendations.

“Any measures which help to reduce the numbers of road accidents involving young people must be given serious consideration. When you think that car accidents are the biggest cause of accidental death amongst young people then it makes sense to look at measures which might reduce the numbers of these road deaths and also the numbers of young people who are injured in a car accident.

“However, I’m not convinced that the measures being proposed are really the best way of going about this. For a start, making changes to the length of the learning period doesn’t take in to account that some people learn road safety and driving competency quicker than others and that some driving instructors are better than others. Driving lessons should also be about learning to drive rather than learning to pass a test. It’s not uncommon for driving lessons to focus around known driving-test routes rather than general road use – how this helps the learner in the long term I do not know.

“Learning to drive is really only part of this issue – becoming an experienced driver is much more important in my opinion. Perhaps a better way to address this is to look at the level of competency currently required to pass a driving test. Why not consider changing the driving test for all age groups, making it more demanding so that only those with greater driving competency (than is currently required) will pass. Consideration should also be given to a periodic re-test to ensure that bad habits haven’t crept in! As for zero tolerance in alcohol – that should apply to everyone, regardless of age.

“Deaths in road accidents are a tragedy at any age but particularly amongst the young. Young people who are seriously injured in a road accident can sometimes suffer life changing or life limiting injuries with devastating consequences for them and their families. Measures such as this could reduce the numbers of young people and their families who are facing such consequences.”

Content correct at time of publication

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