Driving Off The Wall

Posted: 19.07.07 in Blogging

According to BBC News, the government is proposing a shake-up of the driving test system, which targets so-called "Novice Drivers". Lies. It really means "young drivers".

They propose:

  1. people learning to drive from the age of 17, but not taking the test until they are 18
  2. drivers completing a set minimum number of lessons with a structured syllabus
  3. extending hazard-perception training using computer simulators to encourage better habits in young drivers-to-be
  4. a zero alcohol limit for all drivers for a year after passing their test
  5. banning drivers from carrying passengers aged between 10 and 20 from 11pm to 5am for a year after passing their test

I think the first is fair enough, but probably won’t see any improvement. 17 year olds ready to take their test will probably give up on lessons to save money (for their insurance…) then take up the lessons shortly before their test when they turn eighteen.

The second is pretty woolly. I can have eighty five-minute lessons to prove a point. And how would this be measured/recorded/proved? And how long is a lesson? And what about those that do not use a driving school, and use their parents, for example, instead? As for introducing a syllabus, did they not think that there is one? Every driving instructor worth his salt will teach everything they need to know for what is expected during their test.

Hazard perception training is the biggest joke of the lot. I failed my first one, and here is why. The instructions weren’t clear: I clicked when I would react to a hazard. It transpired I should have clicked when I saw a hazard that I may have to react to. Some of the ‘hazards’ were laughable to be honest, like “car at junction”. Telling people to look for hazards for the purpose of a test isn’t the same as looking for hazards while changing gear, checking your speed, glancing at your mirrors and turning up the radio volume. It doesn’t encourage better habits.

As for a zero-tolerance on alcohol, yes that is a good idea, but why just for one year after passing? I think they are missing a trick here.

The final one seems completely off the wall. Where did the ages of 10 to 20 come from? And where did the times 11pm and 5am come from? Although it seems like a good idea in theory – forcing people off the road will reduce accidents after all – but there are thousands of scenarios where that would be an impossible idea. And how would it be policed?

If they remove the alcohol element for everyone, ensure everyone is insured on their vehicles and ditch the bloody hazard perception test, things would improve. But giving younger drivers a tougher time is discriminatory.

I think the major challenge is insurance. When I passed when I was 17, it would cost me at least £1,800 to get insured on any car. I suggest that perhaps it is down to this fact that young drivers have fewer lessons than they should in order to pay for their insurance; or perhaps even just drive without any. If insurance is made more affordable, then some problems will be solved.

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