Driving retest for qualified drivers

Friday 3rd June, 2011 at 12:06 COMMENTS (0)

The Department for Transport Strategic Framework for Road Safetysets out an approach to continuing to reduce killed and seriously injured casualties on Britain's roads. 
The dft's aim is to focus on increasing the range of educational options for the drivers who make genuine mistakes and can be helped to improve while improving enforcement against the most dangerous and deliberate offenders. 

As British roads have grown more crowded over the past decade, the percentage of young people holding a licence has declined (in part because driving has become so expensive, but also the driving test has become more difficult). 

In the UK, the Department for Transport notes that even as - with pass rates dropping 10% since the early 1990s - "little progress has been made in reducing the casualty rates for young car drivers".  This is the crux of the problem with learning to drive.  Driving lessons, essentially, teach one to get a driver's licence.  Getting the licence, as most people who pass the test admit, bears little relation to driving safety. 

Between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010, a total of 1,533,738 candidates attempted the practical driving test with just 45.9 being successful.  It took an average of 2.3 attempts to pass the practical whilst the average time spent preparing is 14 months.  Males have a slight (and narrowing) edge on the practical, while females have a more pronounced advantage on the theory portion. 

Considering over 50% of people taking their test every year it's obvious to see that the emphasis is primarily on those that are learning to drive and the professionals that are responsible for teaching them. 

When questioned about driving skills and habits, most experienced drivers are quick to be critical of learners and would be in favour of the idea that older people should take a driving test at 70 in order to renew their licences. 

The cars we drive and the roads we drive on have changed radically since the Fifties and Sixties, when many of us endured the rite of passage that is a driving test.  And our eyesight, mobility and reflexes do not exactly improve with age, do they?

Driving is like sex - we all think we're good at it.  But in the case of the former, a refresher course and a test would only sharpen our skills and should make it possible to continue driving safely for longer. 

I know we think that lack of skill behind the wheel applies only to other people, but there does come a time when we should consider retraining or hang up our car keys, when to continue to drive does become dangerous. 

Happily, this time comes for most of us many years after the age of 70, but in fact it is not an inalienable right to drive, as I think many of us consider it consider signing up for a refresher driving course. 

Retesting for experienced full licence holders has been considered an interference with personal freedom and whilst the idea has been muted around parliament for many years, it lacks commitment probably due to a loss of votes for any party that implements such retesting measures. 

I also acknowledge that it would restrict the numbers of older people driving at a time in their lives when cars are needed to remain independent but, as a professional driving instructor with 20 years experience of teaching learner and experienced drivers, I'm in belief that a second driving test should be introduced. 

Those qualified drivers that submit themselves to the qualifying process to become driving instructorsare prime examples of experienced drivers that regularly display poor driving techniquesor flout the law repeatedly without concern or thought. 

Just last week (30/ May 2011) we read a tragic case in the Daily Mailof a girl, just 3 years old, killed when a pensioner in sports car mounted the pavement. 

I find the dft's comments about learners just being taught to pass a driving test are disturbing as a considerable amount of driving instructors are at pains to teach their students a life skill as if they were teaching their own children. 

When we compare the day to day statistics we see reported of driving offences committed by experienced or qualified drivers it is hard to argue against the need to introduce tougher measures to target those poor drivers and not just those provisional learner drivers that are desperately trying to develop their driving skills to a standard. 

A SHOCKING one in six (16 per cent)of Britain's motorists have broken the law and got behind the wheel of a car they weren't insured to drive!
Seven per cent admitted breaking the law by driving their own car with no cover, while an additional seven per cent admit to having driven someone else's car without insurance.  Another two per cent admit to driving their own car uninsured in between renewing their insurance policy, while an unbelievable 27 per cent claimed they didn't know they needed insurance when behind the wheel. 

Younger motorists were found to be the biggest risk takers, with 29 per cent of 18-34 year olds admitting to driving a vehicle while uninsured, just five per cent of over 55s.  Note that this would suggest of people that long since passed a driving test.  The research also revealed men were twice as likely to be tempted to take to the roads uninsured than women, with a fifth (21 per cent) having driven without any insurance compared to 10 per cent of female drivers. 

In 2009, 17% of people killed on our roads died in a collision involving a drink driver and nearly 12,000 were injured. 

Last year just under 101,000 people were stopped and tested during the 30-day summer campaign with 5.6 percent testing positive or refusing a test. 

In 1997 there were 2.6 million motorists were penalised for speeding, this rose to 4.9 million who received points on their licence in 2007.  An example of a law that is broken on a regular basis that believe that learner drivers drive too slowly. 

Although the number of people killed on roads in Britain reached an all-time low with 2,222 fatalities last year which is obviously encouraging would this be due to engineering or an increased level of driving skills of newly qualified drivers

Based on just a small sample of statistics that don't take into account incidents that are not reported I would suggest that whilst learner drivers make mistakes and many fail to pass a driving test, other more experienced drivers regularly make mistakes every time they drive and fail to achieve the an adequate level of competence. 

As a consequence a retest or a course of driving lessons should be introduced as soon as practical to make our roads safer for all those that use them.


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