Does a lack of experience behind the wheel put drivers at greater risk than drink or drugs?
That was question posed by Goodyear Dunlop recently, and the results of the tyre manufacturer’s poll surprised many people.
It has long been accepted that drinking alcohol or taking narcotics are the worst things a person can do before getting into their car, but more than three quarters (76 per cent) of 2,334 driving instructors quizzed said they feel a lack of time practising away from lessons is far more dangerous.
On average, young British motorists receive 38 hours of lessons before taking their practical test. This is much higher than the European average of 21 hours, but just 20 per cent of instructors feel passing the examination alone is enough to demonstrate the ability drive safely.
Kate Rock, Goodyear Dunlop’s consumer and brand PR manager, said that the government spends substantial sums of money on campaigns to highlight the danger of driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, but not enough on suggesting that young drivers get more experience.
John Lepine MBE, general manager of The Motor Schools Association of Great Britain, added that there is a window for young people to be given group educational sessions on risks of motoring before they go for their licences.
However, he stressed that it must be done it a hands-on way so that it does not feel like a lecture as a “chalk and talk” approach “doesn’t cut it”.
Goodyear Dunlop’s study has been backed up by statistics released recently by the RAC Foundation. The motoring group revealed that 12 per cent of people hurt or killed in motoring accidents are aged between 17 and 19 despite that age group only making up 1.5 per cent of all licence holders.
Police data was analysed from UK 49 regions between 2008 and 2012 and an average of 188,368 people were injured each year. Of that number, 22,391 were young and inexperienced drivers.
The Foundation believes that peer pressure has played a part in the figures, with many young drivers being hurt because they have been showing off to friends or speeding unnecessarily.
The research included a proposal for a graduated driving licence system which would restrict the times of day that young drivers can operate a vehicle at and the amount of passengers they would be permitted to carry.
So what do you think? Is inexperience really more dangerous than drink and drugs? Should young drivers face restrictions?