Project EDWARD’s webinar on Graduated Driver Licensing (9 July) attracted more than 200 sign-ups from across the world. An Australian perspective was provided by Bernard Carlon, executive director of the New South Wales Centre for Road Safety. Additional expert input came from Dr Sarah Jones of Public Health Wales and Dr Shaun Helman of TRL.

The event coincided with the renewal of calls by road safety organisations across the UK for the new government to introduce a Graduated Driver Licence (GDL). This would put various restrictions (better known as ‘protections’) on new drivers. Based on models from elsewhere in the world, these could include the number of same-age passengers ta new driver is allowed to carry, as well as vehicle power limits, alcohol levels and use of mobile phone while driving.

Experts are united in their understanding that that GDL would help to reduce teenage casualties. Currently 1500 young drivers are killed or seriously injured each year on the UK’s roads.

World Health Organization figures show that road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death for children and young adults.

Dr Shaun Helman shared a recording of a lion’s den encounter he had shortly before the webinar, answering questions from 12 senior year students from Garth Hill College in Bracknell.

Accompanying the presentations was a very busy Teams ‘chat’ room, where questions and comments were moderated by Peter Baker and shared with the presenters:

Could it be that the lack of difference in collision rate between those formally taught and others taught by family, is simply because instructors are teaching to pass the test rather than more in-depth tuition for safe driving?

I think we have a very fixed mentality in the UK. Perhaps we should do an attitudinal and behavioural piece of work with young people to see what their reaction to GDL and law abiding and law breaking. 

It will be extremely important to ensure that the GDL scheme in the UK does not marginalize or exclude those who are from lower income backgrounds. Forcing people to take many more hours of driving hours potentially with an instructor or parent could cause further depravation and be entirely unaffordable. 

Are there any statistics from the Countries that have introduced GDL to show KSI’s in 17 – 24 year olds before and after so we can see the impact that GDL restrictions have had and the reductions in KSI’s. These would be really helpful if we could see these and certainly strengthen the argument  for GDL. 

Overall I think we can all agree that a GDL scheme would help in reducing road death. BUT I would Strongly encourage the law and policy makers to actually speak with those who will be at the sharp end of implementing this scheme as to what would and would not work and also how it would be Policed and not just people in suits sat in a room coming up with “Good ideas !!!!”

It is well and good for ACPO to say “we will make it work” that does not give me any confidence that on the ground where we are seeing less and less Roads Policing Officers that this could be delivered along with all the other pressures facing modern Policing in a time when we are facing cutbacks in all services and watching large cities in the UK be declared bankrupt 

 There is a lot of mention of Young Drivers in GDL, under 25yrs is constantly mentioned. Would this be better to be referred to as NEW drivers. Therefore covering those who take their driving test later in life. How would this be Policed?

It would be useful for academia to analyse young driver/passenger KSI data and see how many would not have happened if the UK had GL. How many drivers would not have been behind the wheel, how many passengers would not have been in the car etc.

Full recording coming very soon…