Former home secretary Jack Straw has said it is “very clear what needs to be done”, to save the lives of young drivers, but the institutional resistance within the Department of Transport is “striking”.
When in government Straw said he had tried to convince his colleagues to change the law around young people learning to drive, but that they had other priorities and the department would not shift unless the secretary of state really “grips an issue”.
The changes Straw is calling for have been championed by the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
Speaking alongisde Straw at a Labour conference fringe event, the director general of the Association of British Insurers, Otto Thoresen, said the organisation has “long campaigned for safer roads for young drivers.”
“We have all seen the flowers by the roadside,” he said.
The statistics speak for themselves, as road traffic accidents account for 25 per cent of the deaths of those aged 15-19.
While male drivers, aged between the age of 17 and 24 are eight times more likely than people of middle age to be involved in a catastrophic road accident.
The ABI is calling for a number of changes to the way young people learn to drive, changes that have proven in other countries to lower the number of road traffic accidents involving young people.
These changes would include a ban on intensive driving courses and the introduction of graduated driving licensing, which allow young people to gain their initial driving experience under lower risk conditions.
Martin Milliner, director of claims and technical services at insurer LV said the changes are not about ensuring greater profit for insurance companies, but about “the moral price tag”.
“It has been proven in Australian and New Zealand that if a young person undertakes 120 hours of supervised driving they have 40 per cent fewer crashes”, he said.
Director of market affairs at Keoghs, Steve Thomas, said the changes are about making sure young people “have the skills and awareness to control a vehicle under any circumstances”.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake said that a driver’s license should not be something that is “easily attainable in a matter of years once a driver has reached the age of 17”.