After a new ‘ten minute bill’ was put forward by Conservative MP Will Quince at Parliament earlier this month, mandatory first aid courses are becoming a reality for those learning to drive. The bill will ensure that all new drivers will have undergone four hours of first aid training alongside their driving lessons before they are allowed to take their driving test.
But is it really worth getting first aid training for the road? How useful will it actually be? And how much is it going to cost?
For new drivers, the cost of learning to drive, followed by buying a car, just seems to keep climbing. With insurance prices continuing to hike under revisions and re-revisions of government legislation – alongside car tax, the cost of the actual car itself and its maintenance – the only way is up in terms of driving expense.
Driving lessons, theory and practical tests all mount up too, and the government’s bill, which was supported by St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross, didn’t specify how exactly this new measure would be paid for.
There are two options: one is the personal funding of the four hour course by the driver, and the other is public funding bodies, suggesting an additional cost to the taxpayer and government under an already stretched to the limit NHS budget. It all begs the question: is a four hour first aid course really worth the money, and is it really going to save lives on the road?
It could be said that it’s worth it, and European countries like Germany and Switzerland have similar bills which require extensive first aid training before a newly qualified driver is allowed to get behind the wheel alone.
Statistics show that, in the past 12 months, almost 1,800 people have died as a result of road traffic accidents in the UK, and a study conducted by St John Ambulance shows that 60% of drivers would not feel confident providing life-saving first aid at the scene of an accident.
Switzerland, which requires ten hours of first aid training for learners, had 3.3 fatal road accidents per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 while Germany had 4.3 during the same period; but the UK’s fatal road accident rate is even lower than this, at 2.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, so there’s no evidence to suggest that the first aid courses countries like Germany and Switzerland have in place actually work in real terms.
Any measure which reduces the number of fatalities on the road is surely a positive thing, but the new bill proposed by the government has raised more questions than answers. What do you think?