Should the way we learn to drive change?

It’s a question that has led to some passionate conversations over the past few months, which is why the debate over the amount and types of lessons a person has to take before being allowed to take a driving test is an important one. There have been a number of people who have claimed that the current system doesn’t prepare drivers for when they are driving on their own – especially on motorways and at night.

Currently, driving instructors are not allowed to take their students on the motorway, which means that once they are issued their licences they have to figure it out for themselves. Many claim that this is an extremely dangerous practice, and one of the reasons that young drivers are one of the riskiest groups on the road. There are also calls to teach young drivers about how to drive their vehicles while being distracted, as more often than not when they pass their test they will have their friends in the car with them.

Talking to the Top Gear website, chief examiner of the Driving Instructor’s Association (DIA) Mike Frisby said that he supports the government’s proposal to increase the minimum time a person must learn to drive. He added: “A 12 month period after the test allows a learner to drive in all seasons, as long as it’s monitored correctly. If they’re just driving with mum and dad, that’s not going to work, because they’ll not get the necessary feedback. But if they get some professional training over a year that’s got to be a good thing.”

“A driver who’s learnt in the summer has never seen rain or snow, fog, driven at night etc – it’s very different. What we, the DIA, would rather see is graduated learning, rather than graduated licensing, because you’re mentoring that person. I’m not for putting restrictions on people [the idea being new drivers are restricted from driving at certain times/areas etc], because all you’re doing is delaying the problem. Plus, 17 year olds being what they are, they’re not going to heed their ‘restricted licenses’, are they?”

There have been some criticisms over the plans however, especially as some have argued that increasing the minimum time it takes to learn to drive will further hinder those that already find it difficult to get around without the use of a car. For example, people that live in rural areas often rely on cars as public transport facilities are few and far between, and without cars many would struggle to find work that they can realistically get to each day.

Furthermore, there has been a number of articles recently published stating that even once drivers pass their test the rules that are in place to keep the roads safe are not working. A number of reports have shown examples of drivers that have the maximum amount of points on their licences yet have not been suspended from driving. For example, The Daily Mail published one shocking story claiming that a woman in the UK has an unprecedented 47 points on her licence – yet is still allowed to drive.

To make matters worse, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) claim that there are 7,621 people in the UK with 12 or more points on their licence that haven’t been banned from driving. They claim that lack of communication between the DVLA and the courts are to blame, with chief executive Simon Best adding: “The DVLA and the courts service are upgrading their computer systems to ensure that offence information is shared more efficiently, but this is not due to be in place until October. But when drivers with 10 speeding offences are getting away with holding a licence, these improvements cannot come quickly enough.”

Along with changing the system for learning to drive and cracking down on dangerous drivers, many are also claiming that new ‘black box’ car insurance policies will help to make the roads safer. Telematics systems are being heralded as a new way to keep tabs on how safe each individual driver is, and for young people they could even help reduce what are generally extremely high insurance premiums.

Those that are planning on learning to drive in the near future should prepare for the lessons to become more comprehensive, and while this may lead to them having to wait longer to take their test it will improve their driving skills and potentially even lower their insurance premiums. Once new legislation has officially been put in place MotorQuoteDirect will provide our readers will further information on how the changes could affect them.

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