I have just heard that the Government are considering introducing a curfew for young drivers and I am rather alarmed by this idea. I am wary both of the idea and also where it might lead us. I have to wonder how far it is fair for the state to intervene in people’s lives when they are legally adults and whether they are attacking the issue of road accidents from entirely the wrong angle.
It is a fact that 20% of road accidents resulting in a serious injury or fatality involve a driver between the ages of 17 and 24 and many of these accidents occur at night. But can simply banning this age group from the roads at night be the answer? Some young drivers are extremely skilled and careful on the road and it seems unfair to penalise these people because of those who drive poorly. I am trying to put myself into the shoes of my 21 year old friend who is a great driver and who has been on the road for four years without incident or so much as a speeding fine. He has a job which periodically causes him to work until 11pm. What are people like him supposed to do if they can’t drive between 11pm and 4am? I have another friend who is 23 years old and is married with two children. Are we seriously saying that she should be banned from the road even if she needs to get to her children in an emergency? These young people are responsible adults and should be treated as such.
Surely it would be better to tackle the obvious issues as part of the learning process. Driving instruction and the driving test are both wholly inadequate in terms of preparing new drivers for life on the road. To pass the test it is only necessary to be able to negotiate some urban roads in daylight and to perform a handful of simple manoeuvres. Could we not make it compulsory to take lessons on motorway driving, negotiating country roads and driving at night and then incorporate these elements into a longer test? Could we not also make all new drivers watch videos about the perils of aggressive driving and what the victims of accidents have to suffer? You would not make everyone a perfect driver but I believe you would achieve more this way than by banning people from driving in the very conditions they need to learn to deal with.
Where Are We Going?
What happens if the proposed restrictions are enforced and then 25 year olds become the problem? What will then happen if we find that statistically people wearing jeans and trainers are more likely to cause accidents than people wearing suits? Do we ban people from wearing denim in the car? Young people are more likely to misbehave on public transport so shall we ban them from that as well? We could make anyone under 24 unemployable because they can’t get to work. I don’t think the proposed new policy has been thought through carefully enough and I pray that the whole thing is reconsidered before there is a ghastly mistake. There are something like 3.5 million young drivers in the UK but each year they are involved in around 800 fatal accidents and 5000 incidents causing serious injury. We are about to penalise young drivers because 0.23% of them cause a major problem. Crazy!
Article by Sally Stacey