If youve got a son or daughter who is learning to drive or who has recently passed their test, its a pretty sobering thought that new drivers aged 17-25, particularly young men, are proportionately more likely to suffer a serious or even fatal road accident than any other group of road users.
Further Developing New Driver Training
In this country, after passing the driving test there is currently no requirement to take any further driver-development training. In road safety terms, this effectively confines new drivers to improvement by trial and error, which is appalling when you think about it.
It makes sense that the longer a person drives and the more experience they gain, the better they get. In fact the risk of young drivers in their teens and twenties being killed in road accidents halves every five years as they gain more driving experience. It remains the case though that the highest fatality rate occurs for 17-25-year olds despite there being substantial evidence that post-test training reduces young driver fatalities by up to nearly a third.
For example, in Austria new drivers have at least three further contacts with qualified instructors during the first 12 to 18 months of their driving career. After taking the test an initial assessment drive is undertaken to gain knowledge of a drivers experience and to highlight any deficiencies. This is followed by a visit to a Road Safety Centre to demonstrate handling in the wet, speed into corners and the impact of speed on stopping distances.There are also discussion sessions, which take a psychological approach that involves talking about peer pressure and the main risks to young drivers.
So perhaps we ought to have something similar in this country.
Which is why the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has launched a new two-part assessment programme for young drivers called Momentum.
The initiative is designed for 17-25 year olds who have passed their driving test and incorporates two modules: an interactive online assessment, followed by an on-road session with an IAM examiner. Theres no exam to take at the and so no risk of failure, but it offers a quick, low-cost option for improving the confidence, awareness and safety of younger drivers.
The IAM describes Momentum as a relaxed and effective way for young drivers to gain experience in a supportive environment to get them through this dangerous stage in their early driving years. Its also a practical way for parents to help their children to become safer on the roads.
The Momentum program costs just 40, which when you consider an hour and a halfs ordinary driving lesson is around 25-30, is pretty good. And it sounds like money well spent to me.