By Rosie Ogden
Major motoring organisations and experts are backing a petition urging the British government to include driving on the school curriculum.
The petition has been launched in a bid to help cut the high number of accidents involving newly-qualified drivers on the UK’s roads.
Launched by Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons, the petition already has backing from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), the RAC, the Driving Instructors Association (DIA), the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the Motor Schools Association of Great Britain (MSA), Admiral, Goodyear and Quentin Willson, motoring presenter and expert.
One in five new drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test and road traffic accidents account for 25 per cent of the deaths of 15-19 year olds in the UK, compared to just 0.5 per cent of the overall adult population. Every year in the UK some 400 people are killed in accidents involving young drivers.
The petition does not propose lowering the age at which people can take to the roads, but instead suggests youngsters should start to be taught about driving at school, via both practical and classroom based lessons.
Independent research undertaken on behalf of Young Driver showed that past pupils of the scheme, which takes students from age 11, are half as likely to have an accident when they do pass their test. Pilot studies in Europe have also shown a 40 per cent reduction among novice driver groups who trained at school.
Kim Stanton from Young Driver explains: “Driving a vehicle is potentially one of the most dangerous and responsible things a person can do. Learning to drive should be done over a long period of time, and from a young age, when pupils are more receptive to safety messages.
“Evidence-based research shows that road safety messages are better absorbed by children in their early teens rather than at driving age. By having this take place at school it can be made inclusive for all. We urge people to sign this petition so we can get this issue in front of the people with the power to change things.”
Mark Lewis, Director of Standards for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), added: “The high number of accidents and the sad loss of life as a result of unprepared young drivers urgently needs to be tackled. Quite obviously the driving education that youngsters are currently receiving is inadequate. At the IAM we can help prepare people for more advanced driving situations once they have passed their test, but there needs to be more done at an earlier stage. Learning such an important skill shouldn’t potentially be done and dusted in a few short months. That’s why I strongly believe people should sign this petition and get the subject debated in the House of Commons.”
Quentin Willson, motoring expert and presenter, added: “Both my son, age 16, and daughter, age 11, have started having driving lessons with Young Driver. I think it’s vital – it’s a road safety revolution in the making. If we could get this on the curriculum, so the opportunity was open to all, it would have huge ramifications in terms of the safety of our young people.
“And, as both a father and road user, that’s certainly something I want to back. 100,000 signatures could help save 400 precious lives every year.”