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More delays on young driver safety

In December last year we heard that the consultation paper on young driver road safety was being delayed - again. Now we’re well into 2014 and apparently the issue has been ‘put on hold’.

The promised green paper, which was due at the end of 2013, proposed graduated driving licences that would give new drivers more freedom on the road as they pass certain milestones.

Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson submitted a bill last June that called for amendments to the Road Traffic Act 1988. It proposed, among other things, a minimum learning period before the practical test; limits on allowed blood alcohol levels when driving in the first year; and extensions to the newly-qualified driver's licence if any traffic offences are committed. But this bill has also stalled and is yet to have a second reading in Parliament, nearly a year on.

Any car insurer hears a fair number of horror stories and the proposals listed above could go a very long way towards bringing that number down. Without being too dramatic, lives depend on it. Your life maybe, or mine.

So thank goodness for the private sector keeping the heat on this issue. Companies like a2om with their Drive IQ learning software – who, like us, believe that more education would make driving safer for everyone on the road.

And let’s not forget the campaigners who are so passionately behind these changes:

TV presenter Sophie Morgan, who was paralysed from the waist down when she crashed her car at the age of 18 – despite being sober and seatbelted – and has been fighting for better education to improve young people's attitude to driving.

And Quentin Willson, former Top Gear presenter, who has teamed with ingenie to raise awareness of the need for further driving education – to give young drivers the skills they need to keep themselves and their friends safe.

With voices like theirs, we’re not letting this issue go away.

This latest delay on the green paper is still being attributed to discussions around introducing restrictive curfews, but it’s not the dark we should be afraid of – it’s young drivers with the wrong attitude towards decisions like speed and cornering. In fact, our data shows only 8% of our drivers’ crashes happen at night.

From our end, telematics insurance can help reduce crashes by continuing that learning process even after a driver has passed their test. On the government’s side, ensuring young drivers have more practice before getting a full licence would lower the stress on our emergency services and therefore save of millions of pounds. So what have they got to lose?

Well, maybe votes. I can’t help echoing thoughts that there might be a political aspect to the radio silence – with elections coming up, is the topic just too controversial? Any proposal to ‘restrict’ young people’s rights is a tricky area, even when a general election isn’t looming.

It takes a tough party to risk alienating its future political public – especially with the words 'it’s for your own good' on the tip of everyone’s tongue. But what if that party was responsible for a significant reduction in young driver fatalities? PR doesn’t come much more positive than that.

Richard King

By Richard King

As founder of ingenie, Richard is passionate about helping young drivers get on the road safely and affordably. He appears on TV campaigning to improve young driver safety.