Quentin Willson appears in Parliament talking about young drivers and road safety

Quentin Willson appears in parliament talking about the importance of educating people on road safety at a young age. SEAT YOUNG DRIVER™ gets a mention! See the footage here: http://www.parliamentlive.tv

Road Safety Framework

Written evidence from Quentin Willson (RSF 50)

YOUNG DRIVER™s

The only group where KSIs aren't declining is young drivers. I'm seriously concerned that as a society we fail new drivers and just expect them to survive in an ever increasingly complicated and demanding road environment. The majority are startlingly unprepared for the rigours of UK roads. That's why so many die every year.

I passionately believe that we don't teach young drivers to actually drive, only to pass a test, and one that's woefully inadequate. One of the most important things this Committee could do is to consider a revolutionary new young driver programme where driving is part of the school syllabus, much like citizenship. Teaching kids to drive at 17 is at their least receptive age. Their mindsets are already corrupted and corroded by video games like Grand Theft Auto and the worst excesses of Top Gear.

Raging testosterone doesn't help either and even the most powerful road safety messages get lost in the teenage red mist. Teach them when they're 14, when mindsets are much purer, and any road safety messages will be far better received and engagement will be greater.

I've submitted the results of a Swedish government programme where pre-licence age drivers were given early tuition and then compared to their peer group who learnt to drive normally. The decline in accidents in the sample group was 41% - one of the highest improvements in any road safety programme globally.

Currently the UK has a commercial YOUNG DRIVER™ tuition facility with 14 sites around the country (www.youngdriver.eu). I've watched with great interest and seen an evangelical zeal among young drivers to treat driving as a craft and a responsible social skill. The change in mindset is simply astonishing. Children as young as 11 use dual controlled cars with ADI instructors on private land and learn the real bedrock of car control and safety. They're hugely receptive, anxious to learn and have mastered the all-important below-the-dashboard techniques before they start learning on public roads.

They are therefore much more able to use the limited time available in the official test process to learn road craft and how not to hurt themselves or others. Expecting new drivers to learn safety judgement while wrestling with clutch and gears on a public road for the first time, is patently ridiculous.

I earnestly urge the Committee to look carefully at this concept as it could save 200 lives a year and change the mind set of an entire generation of drivers. 25,000 pre-licence drivers have already gone through the YOUNG DRIVER™ programme so there's ample data to argue a strong empirical case. I'm currently in discussions with Mike Penning on this subject and am enormously keen to push this forward.

Of all the things this Committee discusses, a change in young driver training could have the greatest road safety benefit of all.

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