Learners required to do 120 hours before test?

Learners required to do 120 hours before test?

First question: “Why?”

Second question: “Why now?”

In an article today, it is claimed that three years ago, a study by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), at the behest of the Department for Transport advised a one year learning programme, with a minimum of 120 hours (20 of which would be evening / night driving) all documented in a logbook.

This was shelved at the time, it is claimed, because David Cameron did not want to appear to be at war with motorists.

Now a £2m study into what measures can be taken to reduce the number of crashes involving new drivers.

As an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI) for over 25 years I applaud any measures which will help reduce crashes.

The above measures do have some merit, but 120 hours? Really? Some will take much less. Why 120? Is a driver a bad driver because they learn quickly? I think 120 is a number plucked out of the air.

I agree with the idea of a logbook. This would be completed by an ADI, who would have to sign the test application form to say that the learner has demonstrated competence in all areas. This would result in learners being put in for test when they are capable of passing, removing the pressure to achieve some arbitrary target such as how many lessons a parent or sibling may have taken to pass. When this is not matched or bettered, the ADI is blamed.

“Passing” has become everything. Yet a huge proportion of crashes, deaths and injuries involve new drivers. Such a waste. But with attitudes in society of entitlement, nonconformist and disrespect of authority, how is this going to be changed?

We need to move the goalposts and remove the idea that the test is the end of the learning process. Thirty-three years after passing I am still learning about driving every day because I have an open mind and realise that we all make mistakes.

Magazines often sponsor people to retake the “Driving Test” and show that about 1 in 15 might pass if they did actually retake it. We all make errors on a daily basis that - if on test - would result in errors resulting either minor or major.

Another major issue is the use of mobile technology behind the wheel - I don't recall anyone passing a test using a phone so using it is potentially careless or dangerous driving? It certainly falls below the standard expected of a safe driver.

Why do people believe “I have passed so now I can do what I want”? If they have achieved the standard then surely they should be working to stick to and ensure they are safe.

If the Government was to move to Graduated licensing, as has been expected for some time in Northern Ireland (where many road safety issues are tested) hen we may see a reduction in deaths and injuries. This needs a radical step forward and a change in attitude.

Either way I am convinced the insurance industry will take the lead. If they make the use of black boxes - not just apps - standard on all vehicles and then adjust premiums based on the telematic data to drive premiums based on risk, people may alter their style of driving accordingly.

Similar inclusions of cameras as standard features in cars will see blame allocated more accurately in crashes and penalise the drivers taking chances.

Is driving a right? A responsibility? A privilege? Given the attitudes above, what will the possible advent of self driving cars bring to us?