Advanced-Driving.co.uk – the UK’s most popular website for safe road driving, condemns the recent Government guidance to Councils to reduce the speed limit on many rural roads to 50mph. Why? Because it’s not roads that are dangerous but poorly trained drivers.
Lowering speed limits is an easy but ill-conceived and ultimately ineffective solution to tackling casualties. The wrong thinking also has no end. Why 50mph? Why not 40mph, or even 30mph?
The authorities know that most casualties occur below the posted speed limit on a given road. Trying to reduce casualties with speed limits alone would, therefore, need them to be set and rigidly enforced at levels that interfere with reasonable mobility.
Official figures also show that ‘exceeding the speed limit’ is reported by the Police as a contributing factor in only 7% of accidents for drivers aged 17-19, and less than 2% for drivers aged over 25 who form the majority of road-users (1).
Declaring more of our safe driving to be illegal is a weak and unthinking step for genuine road safety.
There is considerable concern over the ongoing proliferation of the Speed Kills campaign. This policy is continuing to create a population of drivers who do not know how to determine what a safe speed is for a given road or situation.
For more than a decade, Speed Kills has been teaching people, including millions of new drivers, that just keeping to the speed limit will keep them safe. This is a dangerous form of ‘zombie’ driving, meaning people focus much more on their speedometer as an indicator for safety, rather than the real hazards going on around them.
Advanced-Driving.co.uk is passionate about good safe driving, and believes that setting speed limits too low works against safety. It causes frustration in the average, responsible driver and focuses the driver’s mind on an arbitrary number (the limit) rather than encouraging good judgement of the speed which is safe for the conditions.
Sometimes even 30mph can be too fast for a rural road, whereas 60mph may be appropriate if the conditions are right for that road. Safety will always depend more on the circumstances than the posted limit.
The Government should be providing better driver training to stop the decline in driving ability. There are simple and teachable skills that would make drivers more aware of risk, give better control of hazards and improve the ability to select a correct and safe speed, yet these skills are not being taught.
It is also not only ‘young drivers’ who are let down by their training and the over-emphasis on speed. Crash figures show that ALL ‘new drivers’ irrespective of age have high crash rates – until they start to overcome for themselves the shortcomings in what they have been taught. Clearly, new drivers improve with experience, but this should not excuse inadequate training for learner drivers from day one (2).
Advanced-Driving.co.uk calls on the Government to abandon the simplistic and distracting focus on ‘speed’, and use the next decade to concentrate on tackling the fundamental failures in driver training to really improve road safety in the UK.
1) DFT Road Safety Research Report No.87 Learning to Drive: The Evidence. Figure 5.5: Proportion of drivers in accidents with factors attributable to the driver, by age group of driver, 2006
2) DFT Road Safety Research Report No.87 Learning to Drive: The Evidence. Figure 1.1: The effects of age (maturation) and experience on accident liability
Adrian Flux Insurance Services – the Norfolk-based specialist insurance intermediary – are pleased to announce their association with Advanced-Driving UK and their national initiative designed to promote and encourage safer driving.
With its strong links to performance Car Clubs and driver training initiatives, Adrian Flux have teamed up with Advanced Driving UK and for those that have taken the step to improve their driving be rewarded for doing so.
Anyone completing a recognised course organised by RoSPA / IAM / Ride-Drive or any of the other recognised providers can claim at least 20% discount off their renewal premiums through Adrian Flux. Note that this is off the renewal and not the best premium to be found, meaning once you complete a course – you will receive a discount over and above what you currently pay in car insurance!
For those that complete other courses we do also acknowledge the steps you have taken to become a better driver and are also able to offer a significant discount in recognition. This will be up to 15% off your premium.
Flux have stated, “What initially attracted us to Advanced-Driving UK was the refreshing outlook it took to those persons looking to further their driving skills and a fresh new way of looking at road safety.’
Upon completing a course, please contact Adrian Flux on Freephone: 0800 505 3000 (Office hours 9:00 – 7:00 Mon – Fri, Sat: 9:00 – 4:00) and mention your advanced driving course or visit Adrian Flux
Young people have a more positive attitude to safety cameras than older drivers, according to the latest survey of driver opinions on safety cameras from the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists). The results, published today, show that 17-24 year-olds give the best approval ratings overall while older drivers tend to be the least supportive, with drivers over 45 giving the lowest approval ratings.
Neil Greig, Director of Research and Policy at the IAM, said: “Young people don’t tend to drive as frequently or as far as the average driver, and they have also grown up in a surveillance society, which could explain why they show less objection to safety cameras – older people are more likely to resent being monitored in this way. With this survey we now have 10 years worth of motoring opinion on the most contentious issue on the roads today.
The study also found that women have been consistently more supportive of safety cameras than men, although this support has fluctuated over the years. Support from men has declined from 83 per cent in 2002 to 66 per cent in 2009. “On average, women commit fewer traffic offences than men, so they may see cameras as less of a threat” said Mr Greig.
Very high mileage drivers (those driving over 20 thousand miles a year) were shown to be the least supportive of safety cameras. Mr Greig said: “20,000 miles is an unusually high distance to cover in a year, so the driver would typically be driving on business. Time is money for these drivers, they are more likely to be in a rush so more likely to get caught by safety cameras or be late because of them. They may blame the cameras for being late, rather than their unrealistic schedules”
The data, collected over 10 years, includes opinions on developments in safety camera policy and operations and acceptability of safety cameras.
Safety cameras had a 75% approval rating in 2009, compared with a 92% approval rating in 1999. “Support has declined gradually but consistently over the last 10 years, but overall speed cameras have maintained a good level of approval among the motoring public” added Mr Greig.
“However the firm belief remains that safety cameras are primarily for raising revenue. Until that link is broken it will remain very difficult to convince all drivers that safety cameras really do deliver fewer deaths and serious injuries”
This article has been reproduced with the permission of the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists)
Jackie Willis, a driving instructor and founder/director of Care Motoring, a Norfolk-based driving school, has come up with an innovative new way to help learner drivers beat the credit crunch by learning to drive with the help of a parent, or other qualified driver, together with a series of audio lessons, delivered by Jackie and called Virtual Driving Instructor.
“Many learner drivers have either put off learning to drive altogether, or are taking lessons with a driving instructor, but can only afford to pay for them once every 2 or 3 weeks, sometimes longer. If they are lucky, they will have the chance to practise in between, but sadly many do not,” said Jackie
According to a recent survey from an insurance company, applications to have learner drivers added to parents’ policies has increased by around 23% and it is this group of learner drivers that Virtual Driving Instructor is targeting. A survey by Churchill insurance in 2007 showed how much damage can actually be done when parents attempt to teach their children.
Virtual Driving Instructor takes away the responsibility of what to teach and how to teach it from the unqualified instructor, by ‘instructing’ the learner through these audio lessons. Jackie explains:
“The parent, or other supervising driver, and the learner, listen together before going off and practising, as instructed in the audio lesson. They then stop again after this practise and listen for further advice. And of course, if the instructions have not been fully understood first time, then the audio can be rewound and listened to again”.
Certainly the lessons seem to be very thorough. There are 25 in all, which includes 5 manoeuvres lessons, and each lesson is accompanied by a set of lesson notes to help the supervising driver. Each lesson contains the instructions for the skill being practised, encouragement for the learner to assess their own progress and set their own targets for improvement, risk management techniques, Highway Code references relevant to that lesson, and links to various websites for additional help and information, as well as recommended reading material.
As Jackie, an experienced teacher and classroom practitioner, points out, whatever a person is learning, success is achieved quickest and best when the subject can be learned through visual, auditory and kinaesthetic means. So, in the case of learning to drive, watching training videos and good role-model drivers, coupled with listening regularly to the audio lessons and getting as much driving practice as possible, will lead to accelerated learning which is of a much higher standard.
It is also recommended that the learner backs up this ‘diy’ training with some lessons with a ‘real’ driving instructor, who may then be able to focus their training on higher level skills, producing novice drivers who possess advanced driving skills as soon as they obtain their driving licence.