adiNEWS PRESENTS... A THREE-PART SERIES LOOKING AT YOUNG DRIVER TRAINING AND POST-TEST SURVIVAL
Revised 2012 © adiNEWS Magazine Originally published in adiNEWS in 2006, revised and republished in 2011.
The Price Of Experience PART 1: THE INNOCENT
The person who coined the phrase 'automobile' could probably be labelled a genius, and a person of great vision. Combining mobility - being able to get to places, with autonomy - a feeling of being in control, very much sums up what the car has provided for the world. Whilst it has been an amazing development that has benefited people of all ages, classes and genders, it is perhaps the youth who have championed this new momentum with the greatest fervour. Unfortunately, they have been, and still are, the biggest victims of the car's success.
he use of quotes such as 'A male aged 17 to 20 is 10 times is more likely to have a serious crash than one over 35', and '74% of all accidental deaths of 15 to 19 year olds occur in road crashes...' or perhaps the most oft quoted figure in this area that '17-24 year olds account for about one in four accidents on Britain's roads, despite representing only one in six drivers', have been used so much over recent years that they are in danger of losing their impact, their ability to shock, as we become increasingly desensitised. In reality, the figures are no less horrific than they were ten years ago; car crashes are the single biggest killer of young
people between the ages of 17 and 25 - not drugs, or drink, or cancer or obesity or anything else that provides the dramatic headlines in the papers or on TV. In fact, across OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), the numbers outweigh those for all other diseases put together in that age group. Yet cars and their casualties are almost considered as inevitable and acceptable - a necessary evil for a fully functioning modern society, by that society. A recent AA survey found that parents simply don't recognise the true danger of the roads, and driving, for their children. Even though 74% of accidental teenage deaths happen on the road, only one
in 10 of the 18,500 AA members surveyed considered it the biggest threat to younger adults. Highest risks to teenagers were considered to be: Drugs 31%, Drinking 25%, Gun and knife crime 25%, and Driving 11%. The car and driving is now viewed by society in general as a right, and one that is relatively harmless in the modern world. After all, Lady Thatcher famously stated whilst Prime Minister in 1986: 'Any man who finds himself on a bus at the age of 26 can account himself a failure'. She also referred with pride to Britain's 'great car economy' and pushed car ownership to unprecedented levels, and we remain one of the largest personal car ownership
countries in the world. So whilst the results of the AA survey may be innocent ignorance of the true realities, it shows clearly that social attitudes need to be transformed as much as any changes to training and testing for young novice drivers should life really be devalued so greatly by the desire and expectation of getting behind the wheel? Of course this is not just a UK issue, it is an international problem, and different approaches are taken by different countries, some with more success than others. Whilst we can now boast the lowest level of road deaths in Europe, young novice drivers are still suffering disproportionately, and the
Feature proportion of young driver and passenger casualties has actually increased very slightly over the last decade, even though they have been the main focus of driver education and training schemes. This, in some ways, adds to the assertion that the improvement in road casualty figures is not down to better driving skills, but is essentially the result of safer, stronger cars, and better road engineering. Part of this may be explained by the fact that young novice drivers are unlikely to buy the new cars with all the latest safety features such as ABS braking and ESC stability control systems, but rather cars that are old, poorly serviced and badly maintained. But in truth, this is only part of the problem. The Young Ones So how do we help this over represented and most precious group of the driving public? As they are not going to give up the chance of leaning to drive a car, even if the car they end up buying isn't the shiny gadget filled machine their parents may possess, the only real difference we can make is to ensure that their abilities to drive a car skilfully, safely and responsibly are improved to compensate for the greater risks they may face due to their age and wealth, or lack thereof. Whilst there are the obvious calls for stricter training and testing regimes, and we will be looking at some of these later, a new safety aid is rolling into locations across the UK â€“ simple, fun and billed as the panacea to these ongoing road safety ills. What's more, if the marketing is to be believed, we won't even have to change the current rules and regulations regarding learning to drive and passing the driving test. This silver bullet that's being fired into the market is younger driver training, and by this they mean from the age of eleven upwards. The basic theory: by
Racing ahead - the brookland racetrack
extending the learning stage, young people will gain more experience and a greater understanding of the practical skills, the real dangers and correct attitudes to driving before they even get to drive on the public road. Okay, this isn't a brand new idea, various organisations have run taster courses for young people approaching driving age for many years, including the AA, BSM and local associations. However, this is bigger, but is it better? New Kid On The Block This new drive in the learner market is being led by the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy and Seat Young Driver schemes. Both aim their 'services' at the sub 17-year-old market - as long as the customer is a minimum of 1.50 metres in height, they can learn to drive. In their marketing literature they state that the courses aim to allow the young drivers to get familiar with the car, gain confidence and focus on controlling the car long before they have to deal with traffic situations out on the public road. In both cases, qualified ADIs are employed to deliver the training that takes place in a controlled environment â€“ Mercedes-Benz World is based on the historic Brooklands site in south London, whilst Seat's
Learner Driver uses sites around the country, usually very large car parks marked out with traffic cones to deliver the training. I went to experience Mercedes-Benz World, whilst I commissioned two young nephews (12 and 15) to experience the Seat Young Driver course. Mercedes Driving Academy Mercedes-Benz World opened in the Autumn of 2006 as the brand centre and flagship for the company in the UK. The new high tech, all glass and steel Mercedes glamour of the main building has grown up out of what was left of the original motor racing circuit and airfield 'Brooklands'. It was here that a two and half mile circuit with massive concrete high-speed banking became the very epitome of speed and captured the imagination of the period. Whatever happened at Brooklands was big news and the drivers that raced there became household names. In the summer of 1906, at a dinner party with some influential friends in the motoring world, Hugh Locke King found that he had volunteered to build, at his own expense and on his own land, the world's first purposebuilt motor-racing track. More than that, it became the world's
motoring Mecca as world records in endurance and land speed were attempted and achieved. Now that famous track, well what little is left of it, is home to the company that really invented the modern motor car, Mercedes. As well as an interactive museum and other attractions, MB World has been built for families to come and enjoy a historic and entertaining day out, and truly experience driving. Whilst Mum and Dad can squeal with delight or, in some cases, terror as they drive on the 2.5km handling circuit, tackle the slippery skidpan or conquer the off-road terrain course, it is for the children's first ever driving lessons that most visitors are likely to choose this as a day out. In The Driving Seat These young drivers start off like any other learner â€“ the cockpit drill and then it's on to the basic skills of moving away and stopping safely, road handling and steering through a series of chicanes, whilst trying to instil a responsible attitude to being behind the wheel. The one-off or occasional session is more about fun, but it's regular attendance at the club that has the potential to really allow them to develop, learning to turn left and right, introducing signals and observation as they progress through the various manoeuvres and skills base, right through to bay and parallel parking. Following the course plan leads to further training sessions that can include lessons on car safety systems, and classroom discussion groups with other pupils looking into peer pressure, distractions, alcohol and drugs etc, and how these can affect your driving skills. When their practical skills and understanding have reached an appropriate level, then they will also gain access to the 'Advanced Handling Circuit and Dynamic Areas' such as skidpans. Then, as a young driver reaches 17-years-old
Feature and has a provisional licence, the instruction moves onto the public road just like a normal driving school. Whilst the facilities can be enjoyed as one-off fun days, the architects of the course are very much in this to create a consistent on-going programme of driver and road safety education. From the first session, pupils are intended to work their way up through nine levels of a structured course, including further post test training beyond that offered through Pass Plus, and covering city, motorway and night driving. All through the course, driver progress is marked in a driver logbook, where both the instructor and the pupil assess the level of skills achieved, both in teaching by the instructor and learning by the pupil, and both entering their individual comments. This is a nice touch that adds to the coaching methodology used in the instruction, and provides pupil input into assessing and understanding where they are on the learning curve. This information is also uploaded to the pupil's own personal webpage so that they can monitor their progress on-line, along with the trainer's comments, tips and ideas for homework. Some cars are even fitted with cameras to film lessons, and this again can be used in debriefs and on the pupil's web page. In The Car Sitting in on one lesson with a 16-year-old female student Emma, her second session in two months, and under the instruction of Constanze Stewart, it was great to experience the relaxed atmosphere that learning the basic practical driving skills in a controlled environment can provide. Demonstrations of why you can and can't do certain things whilst driving are often very difficult to demonstrate on the public highway for obvious reasons, but here examples can be
Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy (above) and SEAT Young Driver - encouraging early driver training
simulated, banging home the message whilst only squashing a couple of cones – not only can they master the control of the car, they can begin to understand the potential consequences of their actions, and why, indeed, we need to abide by the rules of the road, and common sense. The fundamental use of coaching techniques in the teaching provided the pupil with a real sense of ownership over what was taking place, strengthening the trainer /pupil relationship and enhancing the learning process. And whilst I was only in the car for half an hour, the progress made and Emma's depth of understanding, despite initial nerves, was plain to see and hear. The course concept, the skills of the trainer, and the safer off-road location, all
added to this success. There is no doubt that there are potential benefits for learners and producing safer novice driver, the question is how those benefits can best be realised. Consistent and regular learning is one thing, one-off fun days quite another. Seat Young Driver – Bristol The scheme was conceived by two Birmingham businessmen who had been involved in the motor industry for many years, and who had also had connections to driver training programmes over the years. It was when they read about the Swedish research into young drivers, and how increasing driving experience prior to test could reduce novice driver crashes, that they saw an opportunity to provide
something different in the driver training market. They soon found willing partners in the guise of Seat and Admiral Insurance, and before they knew it, they were on the road. Kim Stanton, head of marketing for Young Driver is very positive about what they are trying to do: 'The research from Sweden showed that it wasn't age, or anything like that which made drivers safer, it was the amount of time they had behind the wheel before they took to the road. If we can start them off with driving lessons from a much younger age [of course eleven is very young and we're not saying you need to start your driver training at that age], from the age of fourteen or fifteen, we believe youngsters can come along and have an hour's lesson a month so that they get a good two years driver training before they actually start their lessons on the road, that it will give them a lot of experience that will help them be safer drivers.' The scheme uses large car parks at locations across the country, and sets out roads, junctions and roundabouts with the use of cones. Of course, these are large car parks, so there is plenty of space for a number of tuition vehicles to be using the space at the same time. All the instructors are fully qualified and experienced ADIs, who have also been through an internal training session to cope with the different age groups and venues. In the last year they have delivered 8,000 lessons at £55 per hour, £30 for half an hour. 'We are trying to keep prices as low as we can, but obviously we have to pay for the instructors and the venues, and we couldn't afford to do it without our sponsorship. If parents are looking at the cost of taking youngsters horse riding or so many other activities, it's certainly not incomparable.'
Solly, aged 12 (left) and Theo, aged 15
More Than Bay Parking adiNEWS sent two young reporters to a Bristol car park to gain first-hand experience of what the scheme offers. So what did they think of the experience? Solly: Good, fun but tricky because I had to get used to the clutch and the gears. I didn't expect it would be that hard. The instructor gave me examples of what could happen if didn't concentrate on what's going on all around, not just driving, such as you need to look in your blind spot because you can't see everything in the mirrors. A car actually came into my blind spot during the lesson and luckily I remembered what he had told me. It was good to have real roads marked out and signs, as well as other cars around. I learnt more about road signs and what they mean. Theo: It really helped me understand a lot more, for example I learnt that there are lots of things you need to be aware of, such as knowing what is behind you. But it also made me realise what it's like for the driver if a pedestrian walked out in front of you, and I suppose that makes me more careful as a pedestrian. Solly: Firstly we did steering and feeding the wheel through your hands, without using the pedals. Then I started using the accelerator and the clutch pedals, then braking and parking. The instructor asked me a lot of questions such as 'what does this sign mean?' He mainly taught me about how to
drive the car, but during this he would tell me about some safety things as well. Definitely good experience and means I have more knowledge and confidence about my driving when I'm 17; something as big as that sticks in your mind, so you would remember things even if you did it a long time before.
driving but they are quite reckless (such as when they cycle), and I think it would help them understand more of the rules of being on the road, and they would enjoy it as well.
Theo: We did changing gear, steering, reversing, using the brake, accelerator and clutch pedals, checking mirrors and starting and stopping the car, and keeping aware of what's around you. He told me the basics of what to do and then gave me some freedom to do what I wanted, but I couldn't go really fast! At the start he told me where to go, but towards the end I could make my own choices. I think it will help me learn quicker when I get my provisional in a couple of years.
What About The Dad? Roger: I thought it was excellent. The instructors seemed really good, and appeared to enjoy working with kids, as they are often more receptive to learning than adults! At first, when we saw Solly's head just able to see over the steering wheel we wondered how he would get on, but he picked it up really quickly, as did Theo. The marked out track with signs, junctions, a roundabout etc, was really good, as was having other cars also going round, so it seemed like a real driving environment. It also had a very different vibe from driving a car on a racetrack or carting (which the kids have done before). It felt safe and educational, whilst still being fun. The only drawback from our point of view would be the cost! But perhaps half hour sessions would be OK, as an hour did seem quite a long time.
Solly: A couple of lessons would be fine, because they are long lessons which teach you a lot. Theo: I think one session would help, as it helped me, but you would be a lot more confident if you had a number of sessions. Being able to know the basics of driving, it feels like I have got more knowledge for the future and a better understanding of how to drive. I would like to do it again, but it's quite expensive. If I was able to, I would do it regularly. Solly: I think it would help my friends too, because a lot of them are into the idea of
Theo: Yes, because I feel like, if it has helped me, then it should help others. It's a fun and good experience.
Mapping Out The Future? Both the examples highlighted above seem to be successful and popular. In fact a number of driving schools and ADIs have begun setting up similar operations in their localities â€“ it raises the profile of the school, allows
new learners to gain confidence before they face the open road and, perhaps more importantly for the ADI, provides another income stream. There is no doubt that the schemes can bring road safety benefits. Helping young people gain a fuller understanding of what it is like behind the wheel of a car, the practicalities of what you can and can't do, what you can and can't see from that position, all make them realise that there is a responsibility on them, as well as the drivers, to take care when using the roads - they gain a realisation of the difficulties faced by drivers. Young drivers can learn the basic practical and mechanical skills of driving, leaving them the time and opportunity to concentrate on the poignant aspects of road safety when they eventually start learning on the public road. However, there are issues that complicate this picture, not least the fact that the research carried out in Sweden, which resulted in a 40% reduction in crashes by novice drivers, actually derived from greater 'on the road' driver experience. On top of this, further research has shown that greater training experience in controlled environments can actually exacerbate the dangers post test. Next month: In Part 2 we will take a closer look at the issues in hand when trying to reduce the disproportionate number of young novice drivers killed on our roads. For more information on how these schemes are run, and opportunities for Driving Instructors, please contact: Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy on 01932 373936, or SEAT Young Driver on 0844 3719010. adi
The Price Of Experience PART 2: FUELLING FASHION
Anthony Hamilton, the proud father of Formula One world champion Lewis, admits to terror when his son passed his test: 'The first time your child leaves the driveway and turns into the road, that's when the fear comes in,' he says. It is a very mixed feeling that most parents feel when their child drives alone for the first time, unsupervised. Yes, you can share their excitement and sense of achievement, as well satisfaction in their new autonomy that leaves you free from being a part-time taxi service for them, but overriding all this is the fear that young novice drivers face very real dangers â€“ the statistics oft quoted don't lie. Yes, in 2000, we achieved a record low in road deaths of 1,857, the lowest annual total since records began in 1926 unfortunately in 2011 the figures are up 3% to 1,901. However, whilst this puts us way up the international road safety league, the high proportion of young driver fatalities and, indeed, their passengers, has not diminished at all. In other words, young drivers continue to be affected by road safety risk at a much higher level than any other groups in society. The question is, why?
ge and experience and the balance between the two is often talked about but, increasingly, driver training and education have also been highlighted as part of the problem and in need of change in order to be part of an effective solution. In fact, there have been more and more references to, and calls for, a continuing road safety education programme within schools as part of the national curriculum, from the first years of school through to the last. This would mean that before young people even get the chance to sit behind the wheel and drive on the UK's road network, they have built up an understanding of the
dangers involved, as well as the respect that roads and other road users need to be given. It would also help to ingrain the sense of individual responsibility we each need to possess when using the road â€“ especially when driving. Indeed, the government announced some movement on this after the last review of training and testing in 2008, announcing a new course and qualification open to pupils under the age of 17 in schools, though this seems to be more aimed at providing initial training to improve job opportunities post-school, rather than road safety per se. However, driver training group a2om have developed a software based BTEC course in
driving science, free for schools and colleges (currently around 10,000 users in 3,000 schools), which it hopes will be studied by 16 and 18 year olds (as well as some modules useable by younger age groups) alongside practical driving tuition. Young Marmalade have also recently introduced their 6th Gear programme for schools to use free, again aimed at 16-18 year olds. But none of these seem to address the issue of progressive road safety education throughout a child's school life, and that is not the only problem that's been highlighted recently. A new report by Professor Frank McKenna, commissioned by the RAC Foundation and called
'Education in Road Safety: Saving Lives', has stated that while road safety education schemes are plausible, uncontroversial and address matters of public concern, 'Educational interventions are often designed in the absence of theory or any formal body of evidence. In some circumstances they may inadvertently increase exposure to risk.' He cites evidence that showsâ€Ś' some highly skilled drivers had more crashes rather than fewer.' He goes on to claim there is a growing impatience, in professional circles, at the role of education with some arguing that educational measures serve to divert attention and resources away
Feature from other safety measures that might achieve better results. Professor McKenna believes that: 'The one tiny inconvenient problem concerns effectiveness. Having examined a broad array of public health interventions, it might be hoped that a definitive conclusion could be reached that educational interventions are unambiguously successful. The results do not support that conclusion.' There is a real danger here that though many of these free road safety schemes may have good intentions, with the intended results seemingly entirely logical conclusions at the outset, there is a danger that they will achieve little real safety success, but instead they may be seen, by the more cynical, as carefully targeted marketing campaigns. So what is the answer – how do we make the road network safer for everyone, but especially novice drivers? Does encouraging youngsters to experience driving in controlled environments at an earlier age really make them safer drivers when they pass their test at 17? After The Party Almost with annual clockwork predictability, there are the obvious calls for stricter controls on young novice drivers by road safety champions. Graduated Driver Licencing schemes (GDL) have become a popular refrain, regularly mooted as the way forward in reducing the problem through restricting the freedoms of novice drivers when and where they are likely to do the most damage to themselves and others whilst driving. Indeed, there is much to recommend them from the successes that have been achieved in such countries as New Zealand and Australia. Just this month, a US report stated that the number of fatal crashes involving 16- and 17year old drivers dropped by more than a third between
2004 and 2008, with the main reason cited as the introduction of GDL across most states in the country. Such results are indeed impressive, and a recent report produced by Dr Sarah Jones at Cardiff University renewed calls for such a system to be introduced in the UK. Dr Jones stated: 'Graduated driver licensing works in other countries and there's no good reason why it wouldn't work here', suggesting restrictions of up to two years, including no night time driving, not more than one passenger in the vehicle, and a complete ban on alcohol could be effective. But there are well known problems with introducing such schemes, not least in enforcing them, especially as the numbers of road traffic police patrolling the roads is dropping year on year. With the latest government budget cuts to police forces as part of the spending review, their numbers are set to be further reduced. Setting up such schemes can also be expensive and prove complicated. Another problem is the perceived infringement on a legal driver's freedoms. After all, they have trained and passed the official test, especially in the context that the large majority of young people drive safely and responsibly. Introducing and enforcing such a scheme would run the risk of being regarded as unfair by the majority, making it very difficult to introduce to, and gain genuine acceptance for, the public – laws need to be seen as fair and equitable. Unpopular laws are seen as potential vote losers by politicians, and are therefore rarely pursued. The GDL limitations on drivers would also penalise those that work at night and need to drive, reducing workforce flexibility, at the same time as the government is trying to encourage such flexible attitudes to work and
jobhunting work. It would also adversely affect those young drivers who live outside big towns and cities, where public transport services are highly limited or non-existent. However, whilst official introduction of such schemes looks unlikely, insurance companies seem to be taking up the initiative, through the use of in car technology. As young novice driver car insurance has reached completely unaffordable levels – thousands of pounds a year, probably adding to the increasing numbers of uninsured drivers on the road – some companies are introducing 'black-box' technology into young drivers' cars, using satellite technology to record driving style, speeds and hours of driving. Principally, it discourages drivers from driving late at night or in the early hours by making them pay a premium amount for the privilege. But by keeping within the guidelines set by the insurance companies, insurance bills can be cut to as much as half the standard costs. In essence, this is a self imposed form of graduated licencing, but one that is optional. Whilst several companies have trialled it in the past, unsuccessfully, it would seem that the ever increasing insurance costs for young drivers may have hit a level that makes the concept an appealing option to the drivers. And whilst some may say that it will be the poorer sections of society that will be forced down this road, all the research on crash statistics amongst young drivers point to the fact that if you are from a poorer background, you are significantly more likely to be involved in a crash in the first place. Passing Out Another area of post-test novice driver improvement is the Pass Plus course, introduced back in 1995, a six hour course covering areas
such as motorway driving, rural driving and bad weather driving. As an incentive, the government agency brought insurance companies on board to provide reduced insurance premiums for young drivers who undertook the extra training. But fifteen years on, and with no improvements in the meantime, the well meaning concept is worth little in the real world. Even the insurance companies involved have dropped away, along with their discount incentives. Insurance company data has found that the course does nothing to reduce crash statics for young drivers. A spokesperson from Admiral insurance said: We've recently looked at data from nearly 5,000 claims involving young people with Pass Plus. Their accident rate is identical to those who haven't sat Pass Plus; for both groups it is around 27%.' Only four of the original 13 insurance partners still offer a reduced premium. Likewise, the number of novice drivers taking the course has also dwindled, and the DSA itself could be accused of failing to enthusiastically back the idea from the start, though they have recently begun looking at upgrading it and are currently 'considering the options' for post test training. It has long been considered more of a token effort in post test training by both road safety organisations and the driving instructors who deliver the course. The Swedish Case What really seems to have given rise to the new under age driver training packages is research from Sweden, a country praised internationally for its own record on road safety, but also for the research it carries out on the subject of improving road safety overall. In this instance, the Swedish government lowered the age limit for practicing car driving from 17.5 to 16 years, whilst the age at which someone
Feature could actually take a driving test remained at 18. The purpose was to give learner drivers an opportunity to acquire more experience as drivers before being allowed to drive on their own. The study ran for three years and the results showed that there was a 15% real reduction in the accident risk over all. But more than this, when further analysis took place it was established that the reduction of accident risk of those who actually utilised the extra driving period pre-test was 40% (between 45% and 50% of the age population actually utilised the reform). This was an extraordinary result, but a fully validated and peer reviewed trial. It was not one year, but three consecutive years that threw up the same results. What's more, similar trials in France show a comparable trend. Germany has taken the studies on board and has recently announced that it is lowering the driving age from 18 to 17, though even if a seventeen year old passes the driving test, they will not be permitted to drive unsupervised by a driver over 30 years old and with a minimum of five years driving experience, until they are 18 years old. Both the Seat Young Driver programme and the Mercedes Benz Driving Academy are keen to quote the results of this study as formal and unequivocal backing for their new driving programmes, and the life saving benefits they can bring. But are these new courses actually providing driver training that fits with the Swedish findings, or is it a convenient appropriation of useful marketing material? The Crux Of The Problem What the Swedish research clearly shows is that increasing the amount of experience a young driver has before they begin driving without supervision has a direct affect on the chances of having a
Gaining experience from a young age ... 15 years later, Lewis Hamilton is helping launch the RoadSense Mercedes Young Driver scheme, stating 'By having the chance to master basic driving skills in the safe and controlled environment of the handling circuits at the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy, young people can gain confidence and focus on controlling the car before they have to deal with traffic situations out on the public roads.'
crash. But it is not just driving experience that the study is commenting on, but rather it is looking at the length of driving experience out on the road, as opposed to off-road in a controlled environment. And although the research is looking at pre-test on the road experience, the conclusions are also backed by post-test crash statistics from the UK that show that the crash risk of young novice drivers decreases dramatically in the months immediately after they pass the test. Each hour's experience on the road after passing the test
helps, so much so that a month after taking the test, the risk of a new driver being involved in an accident is half what it was on that first day, and it keeps on dropping. In 2003, Mayhew, Simpson and Pak claimed similar findings for novice drivers in the US: crash rates decrease dramatically from the 1st to the 7th month (by 41%), then gradually decrease through to the 24th month after licensing (60% overall reduction), and that reduced risk really kicks in after about 1,000 miles of driving. The UK road safety charity
Brake claim that the average 17-year-old who passes their driving test is more than 50% safer after one year and after two years is two-thirds less likely to have a crash. But the new young driver programmes, such as the Seat and Mercedes schemes, are about driving in a controlled environment. What's more, they may, unintentionally, exacerbate problems by implying that these pre-driver lessons will actually mean that a 17-year-old will need less lessons on the road before passing the driving test. Kim Stanton, head of Marketing for Young Driver, has repeatedly stated: 'We are teaching youngsters the vital skills they are going to need later in life to drive. We believe these skills will stay with them, and learning at this age, when they are very keen to absorb and retain a lot of what we teach them, will definitely make them safer drivers.' Her view is, to some extent, backed up by Peter Rodgers, Chief Examiner at IAM, though his is a more cautious support: 'These schemes [young driver schemes] train drivers over a longer period, so they should be exposed to good attitudes over a longer period, rather than cramming the training programme into a short period. Hopefully that should produce better attitudes in the qualified driver, though there is no research on this yet.' There is very little evidence to back these claims up, however logical this conclusion would seem to be, but Peter believes we should give it a go and see what happens: 'Do they aid road safety? Who knows â€“ but if nobody does any we will never find outâ€Ś. so let's give it a go.' The Reverse In fact, though it would seem to make sense that more training earlier will make safer drivers, it doesn't seem to be the case in practice. It is interesting to note from
Feature research undertaken by the Transport Research Labratory (TRLINS005), which looks at studies over the past two decades, that it shows that the controlled environment seems to break the link between predriver training and post-test collision rates. In effect, transferring skills from one context to another, often involving much simpler tasks than driving, show that the transfer doesn't work if the contexts are too different. So, sitting in a dual controlled car on private ground is just too different from driving on the road, at night, probably with loud mates larking around. The TRL review states: 'There have been a number of major reviews of evaluation studies conducted on this issue over the last two decades. All of those reviews have concluded that [pre]driver education and training has little or no reliable direct effect on road safety in terms of reductions in collision risk for new drivers'. This conclusion was backed up by the OECD report 'Young Driver: The Road To Safety'; 2006, which categorically stated: 'At present, there is little evidence of clear safety benefits resulting from formal pre-licence training.' The report goes on to conclude: '...postlicensing driving risks would be greatly reduced if all learner drivers were to acquire much higher levels of pre-licensing driving experience, making informal training one of the most potentially effective countermeasures.' They also importantly added: 'Also, high levels of informal training cannot be replaced by fewer hours of formal training (Mayhew et al., 2006). For example, when reduced requirements for informal training were granted to novices participating in formal training in Ontario, Canada, the result was that novices with certificates from approved driving schools had crash rates that were 44% higher than those without (Simpson,2003).'
So, as has been long advocated by road safety professionals, and even the DSA, professional instruction coupled with private supervised practice is the best way forward. Why? Because the more overall road experience a novice driver can get, whatever their age, before they pass the test and drive solo, the safer they and all other road users will be. Mechanics And Supposition Whilst pre-driver courses for youngsters may do well at teaching basic mechanical skills and the lower levels of the Haddon Matrix, and this may in turn make the move to training on the road less stressful and more effective, it does not make them safer drivers. A principal player in helping design the Mercedes young driver course is the Finnish road safety expert Dr Mika Hatakka. He was brought in to ensure that the academy's programme fitted in with the latest thinking on progressive, enhanced and quality driver training, in line with the Haddon Matrix (of which he was one of the creators) and the latest thinking on road safety. As I discussed some of the issues I had with these schemes he listened carefully and responded freely, agreeing that these schemes are to some degree a PR exercise for big brands (Mercedes and Seat) and a fun day out for kids: 'I suppose for all, some kind of positive connection with their brand is important. Again, I think the important thing is what they do. Everything should be done with responsible attitudes and practices. The experience I have had here is that the learning objectives are taken seriously.' Mika is well aware of the limitations of the controlled environment, just as he is equally well versed on the limits of current driving tuition
industry both in the UK and further afield, where the political will to change social attitudes and industry practices has been found wanting, and where the easiest options that have little political risk, but with slim chance of road safety success, are the policies implemented: 'There is only minimal interest in selling quality. In the long run, that road will be a dead end or, at best, it will continue as narrow and bumpy as it is now. That is an international phenomenon. 'One clear advantage the facilities [here] give is an opportunity to learn the basic vehicle handling skills in a safe environment, with time and space to stop and discuss. This makes the learning on the road go smoother, allows focus on traffic skills rather than basic vehicle control skills, and so less stressful and more effective.' But he places an important caveat to all the positive words he delivers in favour of MBDA and similar providers, that the methods and goals centre around getting the pupil to learn through holistic understanding of cause and effect: 'Self evaluation tools, discussion groups, as well as coaching approach are an essential part in all phases of development and the programme of learning.' So what about the evidence that consistent experience on the road is the only real way forward in producing safer novice drivers? 'It is not only the experience, but also what that experience is. If experience would be everything, every London taxi driver would be a perfect driver! Good results depend also on the quality, reflection and development of self-evaluation skills.' Mika has great confidence in the MBDA, but only if it is utilised as an on-going, continuous course, running from before the age of seventeen, right through the on road training, passing the test and carrying out the post-test
modules too. It's a module course, and one that can only claim to be a benefit if the course is taken in its entirety, rather than in a pick and mix fashion. Any Solutions? Professor Stephen Stradling, a leading academic and consultant in transport and psychology, defines driving as: 'A skill based, rule-governed, expressive activity involving balancing capability and task difficulty to avoid loss of control and ongoing real time negotiation with co-present transient others to avoid intersecting trajectories while maintaining and enhancing your self-image.' OK, he is a professor, but what he is really trying to say is that there are three main aspects involved in becoming and being a driver. Firstly, mastering the technical skills of vehicle handling and positioning. Secondly, learning the rules, both formal rules as in the Highway Code and the informal rules that you pick up from experience, in order to read the road and anticipate hazards. Thirdly, restraining self-serving impulses. It is the third aspect that has been the least recognised in driver training until now. Experience has always been regarded as the greatest teacher in life, but unfortunately for young novice drivers, real experience of everyday driving before they become solo drivers is minimal, whether due to financial or practical realities. However, the Swedish study has shown how dramatically effective an increase in forced levels of supervised on-theroad experience can be. So it would appear that this needs to be established as a part of the learning to drive process, whether through mandatory regulation or social education to encourage conscience based participation. And if finance is an issue here, then maybe it is time to subsidise this learning process.
The Price Of Experience PART 3: AMBULANCE CHASING
Along with the dreadful loss and distress felt by families and friends, which is unquantifiable, there is a huge financial cost involved with road crashes. Every day, around six people die on the UK's roads and the Government has estimated the total cost of road deaths and injuries to the economy, taking into account under-reporting of injuries by police and using other data sources. This estimate has put the total cost to the economy of all road crashes in Great Britain in 2009 at £33 billion, with each road death costing £1.6 million. The previous estimate from 2008 stood at £17.9 billion, but this failed to take into account under-reporting.
hese costs are stated as including: the NHS and emergency services; costs to the police from investigating the crash and bringing cases to court; costs to individuals through higher insurance rates; costs from lost worker productivity; human costs; and damage to property. In fact, the cost of rear shunts alone in the UK is over £3bn, according to figures from the insurance industry, when medical treatment and time-off is factored in with the repair bill. The governmental service cost of a serious injury is believed to be four times higher than a fatality. This burden has a direct effect on
Government budgets, prevents investment in other areas of society and causes yet more hardship and distress; there are huge knock-on effects physically, mentally and financially, for the whole of society. An estimate for OECD countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in issue 19 of the ECMT (European Council of Ministers for Transport) Newsletter found that there are well over 9,000 young drivers in the 16-24 age group killed each year across the 30 member countries and that these crashes, often caused by the inexperience of drivers, are costing in excess of £14bn (€20bn). If you add to this the
costs relating to all the passengers and other road users who are killed and injured in these crashes, the total is more than doubled. Some estimates put the total economic cost from all deaths and injuries at a remarkable 24% of GDP in OECD countries, through loss of human capital and productive capacity, rehabilitation and family loss, and property damage. To reduce the seriousness of road deaths down to financial cost is not what is intended we are not looking to save money, but to save lives. But financial implications have a huge effect on individual lives, communities and society. By
preventing crashes caused by novice drivers, we can also save money and use that money to save lives and alleviate distress in other areas of everyday life. Even comparatively small improvements in crash statistics can have dramatic benefits for whole local, national and international communities, so even relatively small investments in successful young driver training can have huge social and economic benefits. But how do we crack this nut – through better training? Increasing the licensing age? School education packages? Graduated licensing? Better instruction…? So many theories abound these days,
Feature but it seems there is very little practical action or application, so perhaps we should see both Seat's Young Driver and MBDA as positive and active steps on the long road to young driver safety. Evolutionary Process The road network, cars and driving are an integral part of modern life, for business and for leisure. For young people, driving represents a huge metaphorical and practical step towards freedom, almost a 'rite of passage' in their lives. It is, therefore, a heavily weighted topic for them as well as for their parents. Both groups have to understand and appreciate the dangers involved, the carnage that can ensue and the loss that can result, whilst we have to make it clear that we understand what driving represents for them. Whilst the cars and the road network have evolved into much safer entities, young novice drivers do not seem to have undergone a similar leap of development. Providing young novice drivers with the grim crash and casualty figures will not achieve the solutions we are looking for. Research by Wahlberg and Dorn: 'Knowledge of Traffic Accidents â€“ does it make a difference for safety?', amongst other reports, concludes that short hazard awareness courses and testing do not have a positive effect on crash statistics. At the same time the neuroscience fraternity have established that the risk assessing area of the brain only becomes fully developed at around the age of 25. To combat this, understanding needs to be built up over time, to become second nature, conditioning motives, attitudes and the decision making process so that the final decision is more responsible and safer according to the prevailing conditions. With youth comes zeal and confidence, even a sense of immortality, while an
awareness of the sources of danger comes with experience. Nevertheless, road safety education should start as early as possible, especially as attitudes regarding safety are formed long before the driving years. To tarnish some of the glamour associated with driving cars and the freedom of the open road, by way of an on-going education structure throughout a child's school life, would provide a fertile mind more open to the practicalities of driving skills and driving for life. From five years old, road safety education in schools could be more focused on walking and playing near roads - in later years it would be more focused upon being the driver or rider. It would be a natural progression and a continuing development of their understanding and mental reasoning - an on-going learning process rather than a single stimulating debate or talk that, in the realm of youth, is easily forgotten. 'Education is a necessary ingredient if you want to influence young people's behaviour in traffic. Preferably, people should at least get prelicence traffic education, basic driver education and postlicence education if we should have any chance of tackling the problems facing young people on the roads,' states Anders Nyberg, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute. 'This is important since everything cannot be taught and learned during basic driver education.' Encouraging people, young and old, to see driving as a socially responsible activity may be effective. Our behaviour on the road, whether as parents, brothers, sisters, friends or just another motorist, has a huge effect on the way young people view road safety and driving. From birth we are learning from what we can see around us, our experiences and from copying the actions of others. As Keith Bailey, now retired, observed a few years ago on
behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers: 'Safe driving is infectious. When we comply, certainly in terms of the speed limit, those behind us are forced to comply as well. Bad driving is infectious too. If we break the speed limit, we provide those behind us with the opportunity to break the speed limit. Those who comply can know that they are making a sizeable contribution to road safety, those who do not forfeit the right to criticise the behaviour of other motorists.' So while young driver schemes may have a part to play in the overall process of reducing young novice driver deaths, perhaps refresher sessions for parents would also make a valuable contribution to their driving skills, and their children's. Life Long Learning As ADIs, training is our area of responsibility, and there are already many changes in the pipeline. Whilst there will always be those opposed to any change, they cannot refute its necessity as the conditions within which we work change. After all, isn't it the golden rule for safe driving, to drive appropriately for the prevailing conditions? With the increasing European influence and creating a pan-European standard of driving instruction, the research and discussions over recent years have led to the forming and accepting of the GDE (Goals for Driver Education) Matrix, alongside the work and conclusions of the European HERMES project. The matrix is a hierarchical definition of the learner drivers' tasks on which the ADI should base his/her lessons, and part of it provides a plan for training and assessing the pupils' safe and practical driving skills and, most importantly, includes the driver's motives, goals, attitudes and personality. For the first time it has clearly been recognised that psychomotor and physiological aspects are
essential to safe driving and must be a part of the training and evaluation process undertaken by the ADI. The driver's goals and attitudes increase and decrease the risks of driving and there is a close connection between motives, goals, attitudes and personality. That is the reason why they are so influential on safety: they have effect over all levels of learning and behaviour. In many ways, the ADI's job will not have changed â€“ teaching the basic practical skills. However, to ensure safe driving, a greater focus has to be placed on the mindset of pupils and their decision making processes, especially how they view driving and their responsibility to other road users generally, and with regard to the law. Continuing Professional Development, so talked about in this industry over the last decade, but yet to materialise in any meaningful form, is just one tool for raising the standard, expectation and contribution of ADIs to driver development and road safety. It will obviously provide many opportunities for ADIs to learn new skills needed in relation to the 'Matrix', and will also be able to continuously update training as new research results become available, and better techniques are developed. However, the structure, framework and regulation of the training providers, as well as the level of training they are expected to provide, will also have to be reviewed to ensure the higher expectations of the industry can be delivered by the free market process, and on an on-going basis. Whilst training providers may be able to be proactive in improving the standards and abilities of modern instructors, any real progress will require government action to change the framework of regulation and expectations across the board, something they have, until now, been reluctant to get involved in.
Feature Laws, Enforcement and Campaigns Laws are an essential part of road safety, and are effective in influencing the behaviour of drivers. Examples of positive laws and enforcement are the decrease in drunken driving, increased use of seatbelts and lower speeds. In turn, these laws and enforcement have also reduced the number of crashes and the casualties created. But young people, being young people, often see rules as more of a challenge and something to fight against, than structures created and enforced to protect. Enforcement is, therefore, essential as a deterrent to breaking the law, and the public need to be fully aware of those sanctions, and that they are likely to be caught. Unfortunately, due to reducing levels of resources for road policing, there is an increased reliance on targeted and intelligence led deployment in the UK. A prime example of this has been an over-reliance on speed cameras, which can prove effective in the specific locality of the camera, but allow drivers to feel confident that they are unlikely to be caught speeding in areas where they know there are no cameras. They reduce the deterrent to speeding in general, and the belief that, as a driver, you won't get caught, spreads to all other areas of road traffic law. A camera cannot detect a drunk, drugged or dangerous driver, or uninsured or unroadworthy vehicles, just a vehicle speeding at that specific point. On top of this, modern cars and their incredible safety structures, ABS brakes, ESP and so forth, have encouraged drivers to be more confident about their safety whilst driving fast, and the quiet, smooth ride means drivers often claim not to realise the speed they are travelling at. This is probably even truer when you consider the carefree lifestyle of young
confidence diminishes as the years go by, leaving novice drivers more responsible and cautious about driving. However, it appears to be experience that really makes the difference. At present, the number of hours of in-car tuition and driver supervision can vary dramatically from country to country, let alone pupil to pupil. In the UK there is no set requirement; other countries have between 25 and 50 hours; and now some are talking about 120 hours or 5,000km as the amount of supervised training they should be doing. Logic, and the evidence of empirical research, suggests on-the-road driving experience is the obvious tool for improving novice driver crash statistics. The Swedish study showed an increase in pre-test practice to '...117.6 h (mean). This was an increase of approximately 2.5 times compared to young learner drivers before the change (mean = 47.6 h) and three times those who started at 17Â˝ years of age after the change (mean = 41.4 h).' The direct link to a 40% reduction in novice driver crashes through the research would seem to make an unprecedented point when considering ways to improve novice driver road safety.
Examples of THINK Road Safety campaigns
novice drivers, as Keith Bailey noted: 'Unless we do something about increasing the sense of responsibility in young drivers, the skills they are acquiring actually provide them with confidence and a sense of excitement that can have fatal consequences. We know through experience that youthfulness, especially for the problem group of young males, is about risk taking. It is
about instant gratification and the show of prowess to our peers.' Experience Shows From the evidence available, extending the accompanied learning period would be one of the most effective ways of reducing the number of crashes by novice drivers. Age has an effect - youthful overenthusiasm and misguided
Conclusions â€“ Experience Is The Greatest Teacher We live more and more in an age where everything is wanted instantly â€“ no queues, no waiting, just immediate access. It is not just young people who are demanding this, but parents and politicians too. To address the issue of safer roads, better novice drivers and lower casualty rates, we have to take a long-term holistic approach. We need to encourage life-long learning and introducing a system of road related education right through a child's school years, would seem like a logical first step. The use of graduated licensing procedures have
undoubtedly been shown to have a significant effect on casualty rates, however they are unlikely to find favour in the UK because of the limitations they place on freedom of movement, and the negative impact on the youth labour market, especially as this group is already disproportionately represented in the unemployment figures. Graduated Licencing is also complicated and difficult to enforce, whilst the statistical evidence of its effectiveness points to it not actually being anywhere near as successful as increasing the length of supervised on-the-road experience. What's more, as in the case of Sweden and Germany, this increased level of supervised on-the-road driver experience can be delivered at an earlier age, both pre and post test, with extraordinary results. Whilst the pressure of economic necessity is being foisted upon us all at this time, it is important to balance it with the fact that any investment in this area of road safety would easily be recouped financially, as well spiritually, both locally and nationally. What's more, though the main focus may be on the young driver, the positive effects are spread across the national demographic. The potential saving, as the government's very own figures show, is huge. Let us hope for a revitalised approach to road safety by government, encouraging real investment in 'lifelong learning' or, to put it another way, 'learning for life'. Whilst we all have a part to play in solving the problems associated with road safety, in the end it is only the government that can significantly change the culture of road safety and driving over the long-term. They need to clearly explain the bare fisted realities of novice driver road deaths to the electorate, restructuring the expectations and regulations governing
In-school Training - the way ahead?
training and testing, and the way they are delivered, for pupils and trainers alike, whilst providing young people with the knowledge and experience to be safe, responsible drivers for life. Driving schools, academies, ADIs and even parents all have their part to play too. The opportunity provided by the new pre-driver courses to drive a car at the age of 12 sounds like great fun, and definitely something I would have loved the opportunity to do when I was that age. From the experience of Solly and Theo with Seat Young Driver, it definitely appeals to youngsters today and can allow them to learn a number of the basic practical skills needed to control a car. There is also no doubt that, with good instruction, these driver experiences can also relay some important road safety information, whilst giving pupils an opportunity to understand road safety from the perspective of a driver on the public road. The concept of the Mercedes Driving Academy certainly represents a positive way forward in a structured and more thorough learning programme both pre- and post-test, allowing learning to begin at an earlier age, and involving modules that encourage young drivers to discuss and formulate positive attitudes to driving and road safety. However, the safety benefit of pre-driver training is through
allowing drivers to build up skill levels and understanding in a safe controlled environment, so that when lessons then take place on the public road, they can concentrate on gaining real on-the-road experience, and refining their skills. But this is a very different programme to the one envisioned by the much quoted 'Swedish' research. The unrivalled success of the research results came specifically from encouraging drivers to attain a huge increase in on-the-road, supervised driving experience. These results are backed up by various other pieces of research, but do not recommend more instruction per se, but purely more supervised driving experience out on the public road. It is this experience that appears to discipline the youthful instinct for risk taking, coupled with providing a direct insight into the realities of driving on the road, seeing and experiencing for themselves the dangers that exist when behind the wheel of a motorised vehicle out on the public road. Obviously compulsion will be the name of the game, and this means that government needs to provide a framework that ensures this greater supervised driving experience does, and can, take place, whether through lowering the age at which a person can begin driving on the road (as in Sweden and Germany), or perhaps by introducing a
minimum number of hours of supervised driving before going solo, perhaps with the use of logbooks. Perhaps there is even a need for government to subsidise supervision costs. Whilst more inventive ways of teaching driving skills will always help, including young pre-driver course such as those set up by Seat and Mercedes, as well as schemes such as graduated licencing, nothing has shown the potential for success that increasing on-theroad supervised driving has in the Swedish research. With all the different academic and technological theorising, it is often the simplest ideas that remain the most successful – practice makes perfect. At What Cost? Road related crashes are the number one killer of children under the age of 15. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged between 16 and 24. Even though Britain is regarded as having one of the safest road safety records in the world, 25,023 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads in 2011. References: 'A Structured Approach To Learning To Drive' – Department for Transport, 2002. 'At Risk On The Road – Young and Novice Drivers' – International Policy Forum, FIA Foundation, 2005 'Keeping Children Safe In Traffic' – OECD, 2004. ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2011’ – Department for Transport 'The Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2009' – Department for Transport. 'Sixteen years age limit for learner drivers in Sweden – an evaluation of safety effects' – Gregersen, Berg Engstrom, Nolen, Nyberg and Rimmo, 1999. 'Knowledge of traffic hazards – does it make a difference for safety?' – Wahlberg and Dorn, 2010. adiNEWS
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