Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Should all learner drivers be taught how to drive at night? . . .


Should all learner drivers be taught how to drive at night?

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NEW drivers should be given further training in driving at night and on country roads, according to driving experts.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) claims that UK driving tests should be given a 'comprehensive overhaul' to tackle the modern problems faced by young people on the road.

The Road Traffic Act was passed in 1934, paving the way for compulsory driving tests in the UK in 1935 - meaning the test is in its 80th anniversary.

In 1996 a theory test was added to the practical element and in 2002, the hazard perception exam was introduced.

But the test still does not evaluate driver's ability to cope with country roads, poor weather of driving at night.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: "The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world.

"For instance, Austria has a 'second phase' licensing system, where young drivers come back in the first 12 months after the test for further interventions to examine attitude changes and skills.

"The driving test today does test a driver's ability to a very high level, but it has fallen behind what is urgently needed today in 2015. This must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the next government."

The IAM also claims learner drivers should be allowed on motorways and that the modern driving test should take into account the influence of new technology.

Driving instructor Chris Bloor, of Tean, has been teaching students how to drive for almost 51 years.

She said: "At the moment, a trial is taking place over the introduction of satnavs into modern day tests. It will see learner drivers have to follow a satnav for about 10 minutes of their test because it's seen as a more modern way of driving. Most people have satnavs now and a lot of new cars come with one included.

"Things like driving at night, country roads and adverse weather are all covered in the pass plus test, which is an advanced training course for drivers.

"But a lot of people choose not to take that test because it's not compulsory and you have to pay for it. It should be something people are made to do."

But Chris disagrees that new drivers should be allowed to take to the motorway immediately after passing their tests.

She added: "Driving on the motorway is also another thing that should be taught, it's very dangerous to allow inexperienced drivers on the motorway. They should be accompanied by an experienced driver, even when they've passed."

Road accidents remain the biggest killer of young people in the UK.

In the five years up to 2013 there were 1,037 people under the age of 24 killed and 120,958 injured on UK roads as drivers and riders.

Edmund King, president of the AA, believes young drivers should be further educated. He said: "The driving test has evolved constantly over the last 80 years and it needs to continue to do so to meet the needs of modern drivers.

"We believe the best way to improve the safety of new drivers is through education. One of the most effective ways to do this would be to make road safety education part of the national curriculum.

"It would also be helpful for learner drivers to have a minimum learning period, enforced by a logbook and with mandatory lessons on a variety of roads and in different light and weather conditions."

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