Include driving lessons in the school curriculum Essex
Such a scheme, if started early enough in a child's education, might go a long way towards aiding not only their road safety awareness, but it might also improve their reading and writing skills.
Doubtless, many will argue that it is not the responsibility of our schools to teach road safety, that it is the responsibility of parents and the professional driving instructors. To a degree, I would agree, but I think that the subject needs to go further that the basics that parents might teach a child such as merely how to cross the road safely.
I advocate that Road Safety should be taught from infant school right through to GCSE and A level to acclimatise individuals to the modern world.
For the younger child it could encompass anything from how to cross the road safely through to the Cycling Proficiency Course and cycle maintenance.
For the older pupil it could go on to cover the theory relating to the riding of motorcycles and scooters and the driving cars, the rules relating to drink driving and driving under the influence of drugs and the dangers in driving too fast to name but a few.
I remember as a youngster, seeing figures about the number of children involved in accidents whilst riding their bicycles. These figures were used to 'prove' that those schools involved in the Cycling Proficiency Scheme had fewer pupils involved in accidents.
25% of fatalities in Essex in the past three years have involved younger drivers, and more crashes involve 18-year-olds than any other age group. The 'at fault' crash rate for younger drivers is three times higher than that of drivers aged 26 - 59 years.
The subject matter does not necessarily need to be taught by a teacher. We already have police officers who liaise with our schools, they could have an input in the lessons together with officers from the various local authority Road Safety Departments and professional driving instructors.
Indeed, over the last 20 years, I have participated sometimes in partnership with Essex Road Safety teams in delivering theoretical and practical training sessions to youngsters in schools, colleges, youth clubs and Young offender groups.
This has predominately at the expense of either the driving school or parent but each course has allowed a transfer of knowledge to be passed on to enthusiastic teenagers, after all, if a child enjoys a subject that child is more likely to do well at it and will be keen to learn.
Perhaps a more strategic approach to ensure that local educational provision is joined up and caters for the diverse needs of young people as they move from education to employment.
The lack of reference to driving within the school education is critical mistake with regards road safety and an oversight that says ignores the importance of holding a driving licence for those looking to access the jobs market.
I can't help but feel that if we included learning to drive in the pre-17 syllabus we would vastly improve school leavers' chances of finding work.
Hopefully, should this idea be adopted, we might see a reduction in the number of road accidents and a reduction in the number of deaths and injuries arising from them.
What do you think?
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