Black boxes to make young drivers safer
5:30am Friday 23rd May 2014 in By Beren Cross, @BerenCross
MEASURES to improve road safety among young drivers following the deaths of three young people in Swindon have been delayed by the Government.
Stricter rules for drivers under 30 were proposed which would have seen new young drivers being given a year-long probationary licence when they passed their test instead of a full one.
It came after crashes which claimed the lives of Jack Savage, Shaya Leigh and Kerrylee O’Leary-Staniford on the A419 little over a year ago.
The new licences, which aimed to cut the amount of accidents involving young people, would not allow holders to drive between 10pm and 5am unless someone else over the age of 30 was also in the car.
Justin Tomlinson, MP for North Swindon, who was given a national road safety award for his work campaigning to reform the way young people learn to drive, said: “Rather than legislation, there will be a pursuit of the insurance route, with black box technology.
“I would still like to see my ideas about the driver competency logbook and zero tolerance on alcohol brought in. I will continue to push on that.”
Swindon driving instructor Jo Silvester has welcomed the delays and asked for changes to be made to the restrictions placed on young drivers, many of whom she instructs every day.
“I was speaking with a young girl the other day and she said the only thing that would make them listen would be someone dying behind the wheel, which I thought was horrific,” said Jo, who leads Silvester Driving School.
“It’s down to the parents for me. From the conversations I have with other instructors and young drivers, it has to be parents making changes.”
In the space of a week in May last year, Jack, 20, Shaya, 18 and Kerry, 17, were killed in two separate collisions on the A419 near Swindon.
Jo said their deaths, so close together, would have sent a shockwave through young drivers in Swindon, but it should not take another death for them to continue in taking road safety seriously.
“Maybe going out on skid pans would help them to understand some of the dangers. Personally, putting a curfew in place wouldn’t work,” she said.
“If a young driver is tied up with something or someone and they see they aren’t going to get home in time for their curfew, they will speed.”
Roads Minister Robert Goodwill initially announced in December that the reforms had been put back, saying that the Department for Transport was “wrestling with how to make things safer while not unduly restricting the freedom of our young people.”
The delays have since been extended while the Government awaits the results of research into how telematics – devices which can record how a drive accelerates, corners and brakes – can change the behaviour and attitudes of learner drivers.
Jo said she backs the use of this technology and said this should be the route the authorities take in tackling the issue of dangerous younger drivers.
If a young driver is found to be braking too harshly, taking corners too quickly, or speeding, emails will be sent out to them and their parents, along with fines where necessary.