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Post-test training too late for young drivers

November 23rd, 2010. Posted in Essential Thinking Skills

The IAM proposal today to Mike Penning MP misses the point [1]. The call for compulsory post-test training for young drivers might help, but it overlooks the most critical part of the problem.

Suggesting that training should be required within a year of passing the test is also too late. Crash statistics show that the worst period for young driver casualties is concentrated in the very first few months after the test. By the end of the first year new drivers have already significantly reduced their crash rate by themselves without any further training.

So how can we say that a vital need for better safety training can be left until post-test? Any skills which could achieve “outstanding results” must surely be implemented pre-test. Also, since these crashes involve a lot of other road users, there is an even stronger case for these skills to be included in the test and examined on a pass-or-fail basis.

Therefore it is incorrect to say that high casualties “…graphically highlights the need for legislation that insists on post-test training…”. In fact, the need is clearly to improve pre-test training and the test itself.

Not just young drivers at risk – but all “new” drivers
Young drivers are often stated as a statistic when it comes to casualties, however the issue it much is wider than ‘young’ drivers alone. Data from the Cohort II study in 2008 showed that ‘New’ drivers of all ages have a high crash risk immediately after passing the test, which is only slightly reduced with the age of the new driver [2].

If ‘learning-to-drive’ is seen as a process, the failure point is clearly the test standard. Passing the test moves drivers from a very safe category (Learner) instantly to the most dangerous (novice). No business would be allowed to tolerate such a dangerous process, so why do we allow our young drivers to take to the road without the skills required to make them safer?

Increased focus on post-test training is always welcome. But the best contribution, especially for young drivers, would be to acknowledge that the current test standard is creating unsafe drivers. The DfT must stop denying Learners the safety skills we all know they need. This is the unacceptable killer.

Advanced-Driving.co.uk calls on Mike Penning MP to undertake an urgent review of Learner training and testing, so that passing the test is not such a dangerous event.

[1] http://www.iam.org.uk/latest_news/newcalltoprotectyoungerdrivers.html

[2] Road Safety Research Report No. 87, Learning to Drive: The Evidence”, DfT, May 2008, p16