PACTS has submitted suggestions to the Transport Select Committee following the Committee’s call for ideas on future inquiry topics:
“PACTS would like to suggest that the Transport Committee conduct a short inquiry into the Government’s policy on the safety of young drivers. This would be an update on your Committee’s earlier work (particularly Novice Drivers (HC355) and Road safety (HC506)). We recommend this subject because it is well established that young drivers have a significantly higher crash rate than older drivers, including older novice drivers. The Government has acknowledged this issue and Ministers repeatedly stated that the Government would publish a green paper on the safety of young drivers in the course of 2013. As you be will be aware, the date was put back several times and in December the minister Robert Goodwill started that “We will issue a paper when we have considered this further.” (18 Dec 2013 : Column 629W)
In many other countries the risks of young drivers are mitigated by graduated driver licensing (GDL). The Government commissioned TRL to investigate the benefits of GDL in the UK and TRL concluded that GDL would have major safety benefits. However, it is now apparent that the Government has discounted GDL. The Government has put forward no evidence of detriment from GDL – only some broad statements about “restrictions”.
PACTS would urge that the Committee question the Government and other key witnesses on the Government’s latest position.
PACTS has published briefings on this matter which may prove helpful:
Getting young drivers back on the roads – in safety | PACTS
In addition, PACTS supported the following submission by the Road Safety and Eye Health Working Group (coordinated by RSA) for an inquiry into ‘Eyesight and Road Safety’.
Submission by the Road Safety and Eye Health Working Group to the House of Commons Transport Committee
Inquiry into visual standards for driving
Good vision is essential for safe driving but the Number Plate Test (NPT) which is relied on to check motorists’ eyesight has significant flaws:
it is outdated (created in the 1930s) and not scientifically based;
- it is only a measure of distance vision, not peripheral (i.e. side) vision, and therefore unable to show whether drivers meet the conditions of the relevant European Commission Directive (2006/126/EC, amended by 2009/113/EC);
- it is affected by environmental conditions.
The UK is one of only two EU countries to rely on such a test and have no requirement for ongoing testing. It is usually only at 70 that drivers must declare they continue to meet the minimum standards but no proof is required. For a driver taking their driving test at 17, this means 53 years could pass between the NPT and being asked about their vision again.
The NHS recommends that people should normally have their eyes properly tested every two years, or more if directed by their healthcare practitioner. Regular tests can help reduce avoidable eyesight loss, reveal other underlying health issues and ensure that motorists remain fit to drive.
Current reliance on driver self-declaration and low public awareness of minimum standards mean people may currently risk endangering themselves and other road users. An inquiry into driver eyesight assessment and whether it needs updating could therefore support both road safety and public health.