Company proposes adding driving to National Curriculum at Conservative Party conference

Young driver

The Automobile Association (AA) has renewed calls for driving education to be added to the national curriculum.

The roadside assistance and insurance firm will urge better driver education at a fringe meeting of the Conservative Party conference today.

The meeting is sponsored by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and follows the publication of the ABI’s report, ‘Improving the safety of young drivers’, which presented a range of proposals to reduce the toll car crashes take on young lives.

AA Insurance director Simon Douglas believes driving and road safety education from a young age can help cut the toll.

He said: “I urge the government to make road safety and driving science part of the national curriculum.

“It’s hard to think of a measure that would have a more profound effect on reducing the risk to young peoples’ lives. We owe it to our children to act now.”

While sharing the ABI’s concerns about young driver accident statistics, Douglas contends that many of the association’s proposals treat the symptoms, rather than the cause, of young driver casualties.

The AA supports the concept of reducing the learning age to 16-and-a-half and extending the earliest age of passing a driving test to 17-and-a-half. But Douglas added: “This could be coupled with a logbook system to ensure that young drivers have been adequately trained.”

And while a minimum learning period would permit people to learn for longer, Douglas felt it wouldn’t necessarily happen.

He said: “It may simply lead to people getting licences at a younger age, but wouldn’t stop them later ‘cramming’ to pass their test, which would be difficult to police.

“This also needs to be considered very carefully in terms of the impact on wider youth issues such as high unemployment.

“Should a 21-year-old graduate be forced to reject a job offer because they need to drive to their place of work, and are not allowed to try to pass their test within a few months?”

Douglas also questioned the reduction in the alcohol limit for young drivers. He asked: “What kind of message does this send? That young drivers shouldn’t drink but it’s OK when they’re older? 

“It would be far better to bring down the blood-alcohol limit from 80mg per 100ml of blood, which is the highest in Europe, to 50mg per 100ml of blood for everyone. That would bring the UK in line with most EU countries.”

Douglas added that telematics can play a significant role in helping to reduce young driver casualties, although he stopped short of calling for it to be made compulsory for young drivers.