Fleet News

Fleet training: young drivers

At a glance:

The MPs’ recommendations include:

  • Minimum driving age should be raised to 18.
  • Complete alcohol ban for new drivers.
  • Novice drivers prohibited from carrying passengers between 11pm and 5am.

    The House of Commons transport committee has recommended sweeping changes to the way young drivers are treated. The Fleet Safety Association’s Steve Johnson examines the proposals

    F or those of us in the fleet industry, young drivers rarely come on to our radar, simply because they are generally outside the company-provided vehicle parc.

    However, they are now increasingly driving for business purposes. Firms have every right to be concerned about the financial and duty-of-care burden they pose, as statistics prove -they are disproportionately responsible for road collisions.

    What of the new proposals from the Commons transport committee and do they go far enough?

    Extend the full licence acquisition age to 18? Why not make it 24 instead? That would put the cat among the pigeons. But why not? The 17 to 24 age group is the highest risk group, so why not prevent them from driving until they are mature enough to take responsibility for their actions?

    As for a passenger ban, how would this be enforced?

    TRAINING NEED

    Education is the only way forward but it must be training with a difference. It has to be fun, empowering and almost elitist.

    Make them feel a sense of pride, encourage them to become almost an ambassador for youth skills, a cut above the rest on the road. Don’t make it prescriptive, curriculum-driven and boring.

    Inspire them, but imbue them with a sense of social responsibility by illustrating the devastating effects that a road fatality can have on a family.

    At the same time show them that safe driving doesn’t mean always sticking to an outdated upper speed limit if the conditions dictate that you can exceed it safely and responsibly by a small margin.

    WHO SHOULD PAY?

    It would be easy to suggest the driver himself or his or her parents.

    But why shouldn’t it be the insurers? It would be in their long-term interest.

    We know from experience in the fleet industry that training can make a huge difference to claim rates, so why shouldn’t the same apply for the individual young motorist?

    Would it not be possible to offer two insurance quotes – one with and one without training, the latter being loaded by 50% or so?

    Market forces would then come to bear and take up should rise.

    SHOULD MORE BE DONE?

    I think we need to go back a step to the schools and colleges.

    Why not make driving part of the national curriculum on the basis that it is a life skill in the same way that swimming is?

    Pedestrian casualties among children are on the increase, as are those for young cyclists.

    They could benefit hugely from an integrated road awareness course which brought together all the strands of road usage. Is this vision too utopian?

    Maybe, but couldn’t it be achievable, given the groundswell of opinion that this is a cause worth pursuing?

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a favoured phrase at the moment.

    Such a programme of education aimed at changing the approach that the drivers of the future will take is the epitome of CSR.

    The insurers will also save lots of money and be able to reduce insurance premiums for us all.

  • What do you think? Email fleetnews@emap.com.
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