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First increase in road deaths for over a decade

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Earlier this month, it was reported that for the first time since 2003, UK road deaths have increased.

The report by the Transport Select Committee also highlights the fact that road accidents are the main killer among 16-24 years olds and reports this as “very disturbing”.

While deaths among cyclists and motorcyclists fell, the data shows that sadly, 1,901 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2010-11. Another increase has also been the deaths among pedestrians, where the number of deaths arose by 12% to 453.

A spokeswoman for the committee said: “It is shocking that road accidents are the main cause of death among young adults aged 16-24 and that so many cyclists continue to be killed or injured.”

In total more than 25,000 road users were either killed or seriously injured in total.

Action has been called for to improve road safety for young drivers, including an independent review of driver training. But what could the Government do?

There have been suggestions of moving Test Centres in to more rural areas then young drivers can get experience in more diverse areas with rural roads. There could also be additional training for young drivers post qualification as evidence shows that 1 in 5 new drivers have an accident in the first six months from passing their test. This is due to many new drivers having no experience driving at night or in bad weather conditions. Many have not driven with other people in the car and this becomes a problem when they meet these for the first time.

In France, the first challenge before a young driver is allowed behind the wheel, is to spend at least 20 hours in a Test Centre learning about the Highway Code and then they pass a test about it. The questions include ‘When overtaking a cyclist, what is the minimum distance to leave between your car and a cyclist?’

Driving solo is not in sight just yet for them either. The new driver then has to do at least 20 driving lessons with a qualified instructor and then for the new driver to have ‘accompanied driving,’ where over the course of a year or so (legal maximum is three years) the young adult needs to drive 3,000 kilometres with an experienced driver accompanying them and offering advice and assistance. The accompanying adult must have had a clean licence for at least three years and be over 28 years old.

This system clearly works as there were only 12 road fatalities per 100,000 motor vehicles in 2009.

When looking at the above statistics and comparing the test system in Britain to France it could be asked, is it time the UK adopted ‘accompanied driving’?

By personal injury specialist, Tara Lever