Viewing things from the perspective of parents has always been part of our DNA as a leading car insurance provider for young drivers. We appreciate that it can be an emotional time when young sons and daughters start taking driving lessons and especially once they pass their practical driving test and can drive freely on their own and with their friends.
It has been and continues to be heart-warming, then, to see an ever-growing and varied number of organisations speaking up about road safety specifically in relation to young drivers, doing so in an increasingly engaging and fun way. In fact, more and more initiatives are springing up giving young people a taste of driving, with children as young as 5 able to get a very realistic feel of being in control of a vehicle, albeit in two-seater ‘Firefly’ cars with a top speed of 10mph, through a programme called Young Driver. They hold lessons across the UK in various safe off-road locations like Aintree Racecourse.
Parents in or near Northamptonshire may have heard of CarKraft, a driving safety scheme that has been running since 2002. Backed by Renault and with support from Highways and the police force, CarKraft is for youngsters aged 15 to 24 and enables them to experience what it feels like to skid in a car on different surfaces, but in the safe surroundings of Rockingham Motor Speedway and the Porsche Experience Centre at Silverstone.
Last month in Cheshire, road safety officers from Stockport Council visited Cheadle and Marple College with a driver simulator aimed at helping students to develop their skills on the road, learn about motorway hazards and test their reactions. The initiative was partly influenced by 188 young drivers and passengers having been injured on Stockport’s roads over the last three years. Greater Manchester Police even provided a ‘crashed car’ given to them by parents whose child lost his life in a tragic accident.
News of road safety schemes for young drivers seems to break on an almost daily basis, with the Safer Roads Partnership in the Midlands announcing a new virtual reality app last week called Drive VR. Aimed at 16-to-24-year-olds, it can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices and demonstrates with the help of customisable characters how split-second decisions behind the wheel can be life-changing.
Up in Scotland, the New Driver Scheme has recently been introduced to highlight the dangers of driving inappropriately by showing dash-cam footage leading up to a horrific fatal crash on a rural road in which an 18-year-old called Alec along with four others were killed in an incident involving a ‘convoy of boy racers.’
Last week, a GoCompare survey of 1,000 parents of 17-to-25-year-olds found that 62% of mums and dads would support tougher driving laws for young drivers if it helped keep them safer, with 54% of parents liking the idea of a zero alcohol drink-drive limit for drivers under 20, and 34% feeling that telematics insurance just like Carrot should be compulsory. Just under a third of the parents would like to see the minimum legal driving age increased to 18.
In the South West of the UK, ‘Speedy Jack’ (real name, Jack Nowell), an England and Exeter Chiefs’ rugby union winger, has appeared in a film promoting safer driving among students, in which he talks about his own crash that caused his car to roll several times. Part of an initiative called Learn2Live, Jack, who is patron of The Honest Truth road safety charity, speaks with parents, police and volunteers in the video aimed at encouraging more careful driving.
Road safety for younger drivers is also being championed on the island of Jersey at the moment, with a charity called ‘Prison! Me! No Way!!!’ developing a programme tipped for an April launch with the help of the Driver and Vehicle Standards and Islands Insurance. The planned workshops will also involve scooters and motorbikes, and will highlight the dangers of wet roads in particular.
It’s very encouraging to hear about all these varied road safety campaigns being run with young drivers in mind and, just like you parents, we really hope they all contribute to a reduction in accidents, injuries and deaths on our roads.