Political heavyweight says telematics is not enough

Jack Straw

Former justice secretary Jack Straw has backed an ABI initiative to overhaul how young people learn to drive, cut car accidents and lower motor premiums.

The initiative, ‘Improving the safety of young drivers’, wants to:

  • Introduce a learning period of at least one year before a young driver can take a test
  • Ban intensive driving courses
  • Lower the age that motorists can learn to drive from 17 to 16-and-a-half
  • Introduce ‘graduated driver licensing’, a scheme that introduces several grades of driving tests before a motorist is fully qualified
  • Lower the drink-drive limit for drivers aged 17-24 to 20mg/100ml.

Speaking at an ABI and Keoghs event at the Labour Party conference, Straw said: “This is a really important campaign, and it is one I back 100%. What we have now got to do is move from the word to the deed.”

Straw said the uptake of telematics-based insurance had helped make young drivers safer, but that this was not enough to curb the problem.

Getting the initiative noticed by government would need lobbying to get at least 50 or 60 MPs interested in the issue, Straw added.

“There’s no party politics in this whatsoever,” he said. “This is an issue where you can get an alliance going across the parties. So you have got to act on this. If we did this, we would save a lot of young lives, we would save heartbreak in hundreds, thousands of families and we would also save a lot of victims from losing their lives as well.”

ABI director general Otto Thoresen said: “Ultimately this is a choice for the government, and we recognise it is not an easy one. There will be some pushback, just as with seatbelts. But we urge the government to be bold.

“This is about radically reducing the damage done to young lives, and making sure we do everything we can to make our roads as safe as possible for everyone.”

Addressing the Labour conference event, LV= director of claimant and technical services Martin Milliner said: “Personally I’d like to challenge you, as members of the opposition, and stealing some of Ed Ball’s words, to challenge David Cameron and the government to be butch about this issue.”