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New Course Aims To Address Bad Habits Among Young Local Drivers

A new driver education course has been launched at local schools and colleges after a new survey revealed some bad habits among young drivers in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

The study reveals that a third of young drivers who passed their test within the last year in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire admitted to texting while at the wheel, two thirds had distracted themselves by singing and dancing and a quarter drove too fast for the road conditions.

The findings have led to a new BTEC course being offered at all schools and post-16 centres across the city and county.

The ‘Young Driver and Passenger Behaviours across Nottinghamshire’ survey was recently conducted on behalf of the the Nottinghamshire Road Safety Partnership, to raise awareness of young driver behaviour issues to highlight the need for intervention and inform the content of future road safety projects.

Over 200 students from 11 schools and colleges from across the city and county responded to the survey, which was supported by CoverBox, a telematic black box car insurance provider. Eighty-three percent of respondents with a valid driving licence had passed their test within the last year, placing them statistically in the highest risk group on the roads.

The online survey enabled post-16 students to self-report risk-increasing driver and passenger behaviours. The survey revealed worrying statistics which need to be tackled to prevent serious accidents on the roads, such as:

– 70% of young drivers in Nottinghamshire have no parental restrictions placed on their driving at all
– A third of young drivers read or sent text messages whilst driving
– Almost half set the sat navigation system while the car was on the move
– A quarter drove far too fast for the road conditions
– Over 60% had distracted themselves by singing and dancing
– 8% of young drivers admitted to drink/drug driving
– Passengers were more likely to admit to experiencing risk-increasing behaviours when in a car driven by another young person than drivers were to admit them
– Over a third of young passengers in a car being driven by another young driver reported feeling uneasy, with 23% feeling worried and 18% having felt actively scared
– Over 20% were unsure of whether they would be able to speak up when they felt scared by a friend’s driving.
– 63% of males and over 50% of all young drivers said that they were more skilful at driving than their peers.
– 86% of males and 63% of female young drivers said they knew exactly what risks they could take when overtaking.

When asked what causes young driver crashes, one of the most common responses was over-confidence. It appears that Nottingham’s young drivers recognise this risk in their friends but not within themselves. They also thought that improved education and driver training potentially through schools and increased enforcement and restrictions on young drivers, would help to prevent young drivers crashing.

The survey report concluded that the Nottinghamshire Road Safety Partnership – a partnership between Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottinghamshire Police, Nottinghamshire Fire Service, the Highways Agency and local health services – should aim to supply the education in schools that young drivers are asking for.

In response to the results of the survey, the Nottinghamshire Road Safety Partnership is launching the BTEC Level 2 in Driving and Driver Education, written by Driving Force Ltd. The BTEC is the only course of its kind to offer both theoretical and practical driver education to schools across local authority areas.

Available to all schools and post-16 centres across the county, the BTEC consists of 40 hours in class education and 20 hours practical driver coaching with peer review. The peer review section is particularly important as it aims to reduce the imbalance found in the survey between young people’s perceptions of their own skill and their actual ability.

The BTEC is launching 11am on 24 June at Ashfield School in Sutton who are the first to sign up, with others lined up for a September 2014 start, to supply students with a practical safety-based qualification recognised by employers.

Cllr Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Transportation and Planning at Nottingham City Council, said: “The information gained on young driver and passenger behaviours is invaluable in helping to shape the future of driver education in Nottingham. It is known that the way in which people behave in cars has an effect on their crash risk.

“There’s no reason to think young drivers in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire differ from those elsewhere in the country, but knowing how young people behave allows the Road Safety Partnership to develop initiatives such as the new BTEC course that go above and beyond teaching the basic skills to pass a driving test which will improve the safety for the next generation of drivers.”

Julie Taylor, Head of Uniformed Services at Ashfield Post 16 Centre, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the first local Post 16 Centre to offer this invaluable course to our Uniformed Services students.  Not only will it equip them with the skills and knowledge to be safer, more responsible road users, it will also give them an extra skill and qualification when seeking employment, particularly within the uniformed services sector.”

Councillor Kevin Greaves, Chairman of the County Council’s Transport and Highways committee said “I am delighted that Ashfield School has been chosen as the first to benefit from this exciting new initiative. Research shows that young people form and crystallise their driving attitudes at an early age, often well before they actually take to the road themselves, so it’s important that they receive the right skills from the right people, in a safe, controlled, environment with fully qualified driving instructors.”

Chief Inspector Andrew Charlton from Nottinghamshire Police says “Anyone who is thinking of learning to drive or who is on that path at the moment will benefit from this course. It will ensure your attitude and approach to driving has the safety of yourself and others as a priority. You will be a better prepared and safer road user if you undertake this course.”