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Driver Education Round 3 – How to save our drivers

Name: Ryan Bradshaw
From: Coventry, Warwickshire
Votes: 0

How to save our drivers

The importance of driver education to reduce fatalities should not be questioned. Rather, the format of the education is what should be pondered upon. There is still a prevalent issue around the world regarding driver safety, with 1.35 million deaths globally in 2018 alone (World Health Organization, 2018). The way in which people are taught to drive is flawed in many countries and incredibly inconsistent, with countries like Egypt allowing drivers on the road after a 10-question theory test and a drive of six metres forwards and backwards (Zuto, n.d.).

So, what exactly are we supposed to do about this? That is a great question, especially as the way in which drivers are being taught and tested is changing continuously in the hopes of improving the current situation we find ourselves in. Though, this constant recycling of the same teaching and testing format with slight new variations such as the introduction of more theory videos in the UK (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, 2020) is unlikely to ever create significant change. We need to attack the root of the problem, rather than clipping the leaves from the furthest branches.

The way in which people are taught to drive must be completely revolutionized.

Now, I have just posed a substantial request, but I would appreciate if you considered these ideas of mine. For a lot of new drivers, including myself, the thought of passing my driving test was excellent. Not because I could now drive myself to school every day, but because I had the capability to obtain some independence. To drive without a clear destination in mind, and to not feel guilty about going somewhere and inconveniencing my parents by making them my personal taxi service (though the rates were great). This manifests itself largely through new drivers adventuring aimlessly around just for the fun of it, usually above the speed limit too under the forceful hand of peer pressure (RSA, 2016). But the reality is, many of these freedom-seeking drivers end up in serious accidents before they have even scratched the surface of what driving has to offer, whereby the leading cause of death for people aged 5-29 is road traffic injuries (World Health Organization, 2020).

So here is the problem that is recognised among many, including yourselves. The freedom-seeking ‘hooligans’ are causing all the unnecessary accidents and, in many cases, fatalities. But hold on, these ‘hooligans’ are driving the way they are due to the lack of education they receive in this vast skill of driving. I remember when I was sat with my driving instructor, trying as hard as I could to not start shaking in anxiousness, he asked me where I would go first if I passed my test. I responded that I would like to go to the sea life centre, which was in a city around 30 minutes away. Despite passing my test around an hour later, I felt nowhere near ready to drive further than ten minutes away from my house! I still struggled to park in a multitude of varying scenarios (such as parallel parking), as do many drivers (Lake, 2016). And I still saw roundabouts as gateways into anarchy. I did not feel prepared to be out on the road at all.

But the thing that I really noticed throughout my time as a driver was that, despite knowing the theory to the tee and being as cautious as I could, the other drivers on the road did not. That was where I realised there was a whole new issue. Not about these young ‘hooligans’. But the older generations, barging through any open space they could to get to the front of the queue. Of course, the younger generation of drivers are responsible for accidents that happen on the road, but equally, every other generation is also to be held accountable.

So, we now have an even larger demographic that needs to be educated about driver safety and good driving habits. Correct, but that is how we need to revolutionize the testing system. Just because you passed your driving test at 17, does not mean that you are still eligible to drive in your mid-50s. Drivers gain experience over time that serves more than the standard testing system for new drivers ever will, but they also gain confidence. Though some amounts of such confidence are vital for drivers, the issue is when their confidence begins to meet and exceed their duties to keep themselves and others safe on the road. Reintroducing driving theory and practical tests on set intervals (such as every 5 years) would ensure that all drivers would be more consistent with their knowledge on the road, as well as maintaining a safer level of confidence.

But there would be disadvantages to this. Simply, the number of people requiring tests would increase dramatically as young people (aged 17 to 24), who are most likely to take a test, only account for 7 per cent of all drivers in Great Britain (GOV, 2015). This means that millions of more people would be applying for tests each year. Which would likely cause the testing bodies to be oversaturated with people to test. So how could this be solved? Potentially, the way in which first time test-takers are tested could differ from the other generations. For instance, those that have already passed their test once may only be required to take an online course, which would renew their license back up to a set interval (again, such as 5 years). This online course would be required to keep their license and would consist of theory questions much like for the typical tests. I think that it would be possible also, for a small percentage of these drivers that take this course, to introduce a practical test as well. And I think this would achieve a view that all drivers need to maintain their skills, in the case of being randomly selected to take another practical test. I think that would tackle the cases of drivers that are no longer skilled enough to be on the road.

However, another sub-category that needs to be considered is the skilled drivers. More specifically, the skilled drivers that become overconfident and begin to make the road more dangerous for other users (for example, through speeding and weaving between cars). Now the way in which these drivers can be made safer is a very difficult question. These drivers would most likely pass a practical driving test and would also be aware of most of the theory. So how can these drivers be targeted? I do not think they can. I think instead we can only target the offenders, and through this thought process the best course of action would be to further increase the disciplinary action for the criminals of road safety.

I have heard numerous accounts of unsafe driving by some my peers regarding their parents, yet they never seem to have been disciplined for it. I think that the governance of safe driving boils down to 2 topics, that is surveillance (catching the crimes) and discipline (acting upon seeing the crimes). Though both are being worked on and the positive effects are being noticed (RSPA, 2020) it is not being improved at a significant enough rate that will mitigate these large fatalities we experience each year. More needs to be done.

Looking at the problem, it seems that lots can be done on a global scale. But since the figures for fatalities are still not decreasing, I think it is fitting to consider a local scale for a solution. And in the case of driver safety, the local scale may be the most effective.

Becoming a better driver comes from being more patient, more tolerable and more aware. Patience is a virtue, and when it comes to driving, it is a lifesaver. By being patient, it mitigates the risk of becoming an aggressive driver, and instead fosters a defensive driving stance. By being an effective defensive driver, you are already working on the best habits in driving that will keep you and others safe (Ageas, 2019). Tolerance is also equally as important, as it allows you to gain some control over the uncontrollable – other drivers. By being a tolerable driver, it means you can facilitate the mistakes of other drivers, and manipulate the situation so that it is as safe as possible regardless of the circumstance that they may have put you in.

Finally, awareness. It allows you to see into the future, predicting what will happen and preparing accordingly. The smoothest and safest drivers are those who are fully aware of their surroundings, and hence can easily compensate for any challenging situations.

Applying this to myself, I watch driving videos from a host of YouTube channels which help me learn how to deal with situations before they have even happened to me. I also can learn from other’s mistakes. When driving I am always retaining concentration, meaning that the phone is away, and the music being played is not bursting my eardrums.

It is my hope that all drivers on the road will actively seek to improve their driving skills like myself, regardless of their age. To create roads not ridden with the shadow of death. To create roads which we can share harmoniously. And, ultimately, to all enjoy the true thrills of driving.

Reference list

Ageas (2019). Are You a Defensive driver? [online] Ageas UK. Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2021].

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (2020). Theory Test changes: 28 September 2020. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].

GOV (2015). Facts on Young Car Drivers. [online] Facts on Young Car Drivers, Department for Transport, pp.1–11. Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2021].

Lake, E. (2016). Millions of Drivers Are Suffering from “parallelophobia.” [online] The Sun. Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].

RSA (2016). Peer Pressure behind the Wheel – RSA Group. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].

RSPA (2020). Road Safety Factsheet. [online] Speed Cameras Factsheet. Available at: [Accessed 10 Mar. 2021].

World Health Organization (2018). Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].

World Health Organization (2020). Road Traffic Injuries. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].

Zuto (n.d.). Driving Tests around the World | Zuto. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Mar. 2021].