Road safety honour for campaigning Swindon MP
NORTH Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson has been given a national road safety award for his work campaigning to reform the way young people learn to drive in a bid to prevent devastating road crashes.
Mr Tomlinson launched his campaign in June after crashes which claimed the lives of Jack Savage, 20, of Wanborough, and Shaya Leigh, 18, and Kerry O’Leary-Staniford, 17, in the space of a week in May. Both accidents happened on the A419 near Swindon.
Working to highlight the issue in Parliament, Mr Tomlinson introduced the Graduated Driving Licence Scheme Bill on June 19. The Bill proposed that for 12 months immediately after passing their tests, drivers would have licence restrictions to limit the risks they are exposed to.
This would include a zero-tolerance drink drive limit and only being allowed to carry one passenger. These restrictions would be supported by graduated learning, with key skills signed off by an accredited instructor before being allowed to book a test.
Graduated driver licensing already exists in a number of countries, including America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It is predicted that it would save 200 lives and prevent 14,000 injuries a year in the UK.
Mr Tomlinson consulted widely, with emergency services, the insurance industry, Driver Instructors Association and with road safety charity Brake.
He also repeatedly met transport ministers Stephen Hammond and Robert Goodwill, raised questions in Parliament about young road deaths, and wrote about the issue in local press and the Conservative Home blog.
He secured cross-party support for the Bill from a number of MPs, and it was due to have its second reading on October 25. Unfortunately there was not enough time to debate the Bill, and a new date has not yet been announced.
Mr Tomlinson has been presented with the award from Brake and Direct Line Group.
He said: “With four young people a day either killed or seriously injured on our roads, it is vital we take steps to allow young drivers to gain essential driving experience under lower risk conditions.
“I will continue to press on this issue as not only will it improve safety, but it will also bring down sky-high insurance premiums for young drivers.
“I’m very grateful for all Brake’s support in promoting my Private Members Bill.”
Although Mr Tomlinson’s Bill may not become law directly, it has put the issue at the top of the agenda ahead of the government's forthcoming green paper on young drivers, expected in the new year.
He has now been invited by road safety minister Robert Goodwill to submit his research and proposals for consideration alongside the green paper, and he will continue to press for graduated licensing.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: “Brake fully endorses Justin’s campaign for graduated driver licensing, an approach we believe is critical to reducing the appalling numbers of young lives cut short and changed forever on our roads.
“As a charity that supports bereaved and injured road crash victims, all too often we see families torn apart by these devastating yet preventable deaths and serious injuries.
“Young drivers are more at risk because of a deadly combination of inexperience, over-confidence and peer pressure.
“Introducing them to the roads gradually, through a minimum learning period and restrictions for novice drivers, has been proven to drastically reduce these risks.
“We are delighted to recognise Justin’s work on the issue and will continue to support his efforts until the law is changed.”
Comments are closed on this article.