Sunday, 13 October 2013 18:42

Road rules could hit rural youngsters

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Road rules could hit rural youngsters

RURAL youngsters must not be penalised by plans to impose additional restrictions on novice drivers to improve road safety, say campaigners.

Suggestions to improve young driver safety could include night time driving curfews and a ban for novice drivers on carrying passengers under 30-years-old.

The urgent need to tackle young driver safety is highlighted in a report undertaken by the Transport Research Laboratory for the Department for Transport.

Implementing restrictions by introducing a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system, similar to those in other countries, could result reduce casualties and save up to £447m per year, says the document.

The National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs, which campaigns for better rural road safety among younger drivers, said its members could be affected by the proposals.

NFYFC chairman Milly Wastie recently met officials from the Department for Transport to highlight how the restrictions would impact on rural young people.

"Due to a lack of public transport, rural young people rely on a car to get to their place of education or work," she said.

Ms Wastie said the NFYFC supported the introduction of measures such as a Graduated Driver Licence – but asked that consideration was given to young people in isolated rural areas.

The report says there could be almost 9000 fewer deaths and serious injuries on UK roads every year if changes were made to the way young people learn to drive.

The "over-representation" of young novice drivers in road collisions is a public health risk in Great Britain, it adds.

The key contributory factors to this problem are youth and inexperience, the report warns.

While the provision of pre-driver education and training is widespread, evidence of effectiveness is absent, it says.

The research recommends the GDL includes restrictions on driving during the hours of darkness for youngsters.

Young drivers should be subject to a 12-month learner stage, beginning at age 17, requiring at least 100 hours of daytime and 20 hours of night time supervised practice.

After passing their tests, drivers would be subject to a 12-month night time driving curfew between 10pm and 5am, unless accompanied by a passenger aged over 30.

Ms Wastie said members working in agriculture could be particularly affected by the curfew – especially during peak seasons when working late nights and early mornings on farms is compulsory.

Dairy farmers, for example, had to be at work from 4-5am all year round.

"For those with jobs in agriculture, especially during peak seasons such as harvest, they may often be required to work outside of the suggested curfew times of 10pm-5am."

"We ask government and local communities to ensure that our rural youth are not unfairly penalised by these new measures and that solutions are found for safe, night time transportation."

The full report can be accessed here.

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