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Pros and Cons of Tightening Young Drivers’ Restrictions in the UK

Numerous people favour tighter restrictions on young drivers in the UK. Many older drivers would like to see driving rights removed for anyone under 25 years old. This is due to the high rate of auto accidents young drivers have that result in fatalities and serious injuries, as well as expensive property damage. Over 3,000 of the 1.2 million people killed annually in auto accidents will be UK citizens under the age of 25. Approximately 73% of these deaths will be males ranging from 16 to 19 years old.

Stricter driver educational standards and more comprehensive testing have been suggested as a solution to the problem. Other suggestions have been to introduce a gradual driver licensing programme for young people. There are pros and cons to all of these solutions. Since there is a wide variety of contributing factors to this high accident rate, no solution is going to adequately address every factor.

Contributing factors to be addressed

A vast amount of research has been conducted by various individuals and organisations regarding the extremely high accident rate. Not only is the young driver accident rate high in the UK; it’s also high in the majority of countries around the world. Research results and diverse statistics demonstrate the primary contributing factors in accidents involving young people are:

Ø Lack of driving experience

Ø Lack of self-confidence/over-confident

Ø Driver impairment due to alcohol, drugs, fatigue, or ill-health

Ø Excessive speed for road, traffic, and weather conditions

Ø Driver distraction

Ø Errors in judgment when driving behind another vehicle, making right turns, and while overtaking another vehicle

Ø Improper road usage

Ø Risk-taking behaviour resulting from aggression, lack of emotional control, peer pressure, or showing off

Ø Loss of control of vehicle

Ø Poor hazard perception

Pros of Restrictions

It has been demonstrated in various countries that placing certain safety restrictions have helped to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries somewhat. These restrictions have included such things as requiring everyone to wear safety belts and limiting after dark driving for certain ages. They also included banning use of mobile phones, eating, and drinking while driving, and placing passenger restrictions on young drivers. They have also consisted of diverse types of gradual driver licensing programmes. The restrictions also consisted of setting a higher legal drinking age and limiting the amount of legal consumption.

Although these restrictions do seem to help, they do not adequately address some of the more primary factors. For instance, they do not address the issues of poor hazard perception, errors of judgment, or the driver’s confidence level. They only partially deal with the remaining contributing factors.

Cons of Restrictions

There are numerous cons to restricting young drivers. For instance, the restrictions may prevent or delay the young drivers from getting the necessary experience. The restrictions may also affect a young person’s ability to work, attend school, and attend night time social events, such as away football games. According to recent statistics, 80% of jobs revolve around driving, and 40% of traffic on the road is due to people driving on the job. Another 40% of the traffic is people driving to and from their workplace. If a young person couldn’t work due to the driving restrictions, then it can cause financial hardship on him, his family, and his community.

Numerous young employees are required to drive at night. Sometimes the young driver has to carry several passengers just as young as he or she may be. Some young drivers must drive vehicles that they haven’t been formally trained and tested in. To adequately cover all the situations a young driver may be placed in as an employee, a drivers’ educational course would have to include experience with:

Ø Driving long and short distances in between sites, and in unfamiliar surroundings

Ø Driving with passengers, including young children

Ø Learning how to drive with internal and external distractions occurring

Ø Driving in urban and rural areas, both during the day and after dark including during heavy traffic rush hours

Ø Driving on motorways, built up roads, and rural roads, especially under inclement weather conditions

Ø Site-limited driving, such as at construction sites, in manufacturing plants, and parking lots

Ø Safely transporting hazardous materials

Ø Safely collecting and delivering materials and goods

Ø Driving diverse vehicles and how to operate the various safety devices on these vehicles

Ø Driving in foreign countries.

Ø Developing a proper attitude towards driving and improving driving skills

Ø Developing a proper level of self-confidence

Ø Laws, regulations, and proper road usage

Ø Learning how to cope with peer pressure and other stressful situations

Most current driver training courses only teach the person to drive personal transportation vehicles. There are some that train a driver to operate heavy equipment and larger vehicles. However, there are no courses available that teaches both at the same time. Most of these aforementioned driving skills are not currently tested for by licensing agencies under one license category.

Even if the driving test was modified, how could it possibly test the driver’s attitude and maturity level? As the saying goes, “one size does not fit all”. Everyone is unique, including every single young driver out on the road. Any training course or additional testing would have to be flexible yet comprehensive. It would also have to be inexpensive so young drivers could still afford to receive formal training and testing.

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