|London, 14 Mar 2001.
For immediate release.
Research shows that these new drivers are much more likely to be involved in accidents than more experienced drivers, and that training in hazard perception can make them seven times safer.
"This video is an important step towards teaching new drivers how accidents happen and how to avoid them," says ABD Chairman Brian Gregory.
It is a pity, however, that such an important contribution to road safety has to rely on commercial sponsorship and publicity by voluntary organisations such as the ABD. No Government money has been forthcoming to ensure that every new driver has the opportunity to watch this video and benefit from this improvement in road safety. Instead, the authorities continue up the blind alley of speed reduction,which actually reduces people's ability to drive safely by distracting their attention from the road and preventing them from thinking about what is a safe speed for the circumstances.
"The Government must learn that hazard perception is what road safety is all about," says spokesman Nigel Humphries. "But their obsession with speed has been working against real road safety for so long that they've lost the plot."
Research by the DSA in conjunction with the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) recently confirmed that hazard perception training is the most effective approach for reducing road accident risk amongst inexperienced road users.
The new education programme, which is to be launched under the slogan "What If?" has the potential to generate a sevenfold heightening of hazard perception skills, with dramatic positive implications for road safety. The DSA would like to send a hazard perception video to every learner driver in the UK, at a cost of some £2.5 million.
But the DSA has been told by John Prescott's DETR that there are no funds available for distribution of this life-saving video.
This seems strange, given that the fixed penalty charges for motoring offences have just been increased by 50%. The DETR's self-proclaimed target for speed limit related prosecutions in the year 2001 is 1.3 million; generating some £26 million in extra revenue which is allegedly to be ploughed back into road safety-related projects. What more deserving case can there be than the DSA's "What If?" video distribution?
The answer is simple: the DSA programme will save lives by encouraging drivers to take pride in their driving, and to enjoy driving safely and well. It could encourage them to undertake further training and raise the whole profile of life saving advanced roadcraft skills that are so lacking on Britain's roads.
On the other hand, speed reduction and enforcement currently generates nearly £80 million per annum for the exchequer. It also makes driving a car unpleasant and tedious, so it has a high political priority as part of the Government's increasingly desperate efforts to get people to abandon their cars in favour of an inadequate public transport system.
"Its no wonder they don't want to spend money on getting people to take pride in their driving," continues Humphries. "When all they want is to make driving so unpleasant that people will stop doing it and take the bus."
Where would you rather the money were spent? On a misplaced and inappropriate crusade against speed, or on road user on training and education measures guaranteed to cut casualties? The answer is crystal-clear in the view of the Association of British Drivers, and reflects very badly on those entrusted with the task of improving the nation's road safety.
Driving Standards Agency website