The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has launched a new version of its special website for parents and others who help learner drivers with private practice.
Marking the half-way point in its first-ever Family Safety Week, RoSPA is focusing on learner drivers as it seeks to raise awareness of safety issues affecting young people. It is urging the parents of learner drivers to make a pledge to find out how they can better help their children during the learning period.
The website - www.helpingldrivers.com - gives advice about how to supervise private practice sessions, with tips for what to do before, during and after drives. It has been completely refreshed for the first time since its launch in 2006, thanks to funding from the Department for Transport.
Learner drivers have few accidents because they are always under supervision. But, once they pass their test, and can drive unsupervised, their chances of crashing increase dramatically, especially in their first year of driving. Figures from the insurance industry show that young male drivers aged 17-20 are nearly 10 times more likely to be injured on the roads than more experienced drivers. They are also twice as likely to make an insurance claim than other drivers and, on average, their claims cost three times more.
RoSPA believes that the best way to learn to drive is to take professional lessons with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) and to complement these with private practice supervised by a family member or friend. This helps the learner to practise what they are being taught by their professional instructor in a wider range of driving situations.
Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “New drivers are more likely to be involved in high speed crashes, crashes caused by losing control of the vehicle, crashes in the dark and crashes when overtaking and negotiating bends. However, research shows that the more driving experience learners obtain, in a wide range of driving situations, the safer they are likely to be when they start to drive on their own.
“The family and friends of learner drivers can help them to become safer by offering to take them out for private practice. It’s really useful if private practice can be co-ordinated with professional lessons, so we encourage supervisors to talk to the driving instructor to find out when to start and what to cover in the sessions.”
Among the subjects covered on the website are the legal and insurance requirements for learning to drive and being a supervising driver, route planning, how to conduct practice drives and give feedback, advice on choosing an ADI, overviews of the theory and practical driving tests and information about what to do after the driving test, including buying a first car, arranging insurance and seeking further training, for example through the RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders network. There is an equally comprehensive section of the website related to learner motorcyclists, again covering the law and licensing requirements, how to conduct private practice, the theory and practical riding tests and post-test advice.
RoSPA’s Family Safety Week is running from March 24-28. With accidents killing about 14,000 people each year across the UK and being the principal cause of premature, preventable death for most of our lives, RoSPA wanted to help families find out about some of the common causes of accidents and the simple steps that can be taken to prevent them.
All ages and stages of life are covered, with the other themes being under-5s’ safety in the home, helping children learn to swim, becoming safer drivers at work and preventing falls.
RoSPA hopes as many people as possible will get involved during Family Safety Week, by taking part in its online National Accident Survey, making a pledge or sharing safety advice with friends, family and colleagues via social media, as well as by downloading a Twibbon to show support on Twitter or Facebook.