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Will intensive driving courses ban make roads safer?

Severely damaged front end of a silver carThe Association of British Insurers has called for a ban on intensive driving courses as part of “tough love” proposals to cut young driver road accidents and reduce their insurance costs.

Learner drivers under the age of 25 should be banned from taking intensive driving courses, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said.

The radical proposal is part of what the ABI is calling “tough love” measures to cut road accidents among the young.

It is calling for a ban on these “crash courses” as they are popularly known - where budding motorists can learn to drive in as little as a week - where this is the sole means of learning to pass the driving test.

Courses 'don’t produce safe drivers'

The ABI says such courses don’t enable learners to gain experience in a wide variety of road conditions, making them unsuitable for producing safe drivers.

It is now calling on government to overhaul how young people are taught to drive.

The insurance body is also calling for a minimum one-year learning period before under-25s can take their test.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance and health at the ABI, says the intention is not to force young motorists off the road but to ensure that they become safer drivers.

“We must act to reduce the tragic loss of young lives on our roads,” he said.

Road crash statistics

One in four people killed or seriously injured in a road crash is a young driver or one of their passengers, yet drivers under the age of 25 account for only 12 per cent  of all driving licence holders, according to the ABI.

Young male drivers are especially at risk, being five times more likely to be involved in a crash than male drivers aged 30 to 59.

Starling added: “While recent years may have seen a reduction road accident fatalities and serious injuries the figures are still too high.

“Whether it is inexperience, youthful bravado or sheer recklessness we need tough action to better equip young drivers to handle the dangers of driving.”

Measures will cut car insurance costs

Helping young people to be safer drivers will reduce their car insurance risk rating which will eventually lead to reduced premiums for this age group, says the ABI.

But some in the motoring industry have questioned how a ban on intensive driving courses would work in practice.

Peter Rodger of road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said: “The principle is right that learning to drive over a longer period is better.

Age “anomalies”

“You gain a good understanding of how you all need to relate to each other on the road, and generally, things learned over a long period of time implant the learning more deeply.

“But I’m not sure that putting a ban in place is the right way to do things.

“Creating a regulatory framework like this will throw up anomalies where you say a driver aged 24 years and 364 days can’t do something but overnight they can.”

What do young drivers say?

Sinead Marshall, 19, a university student in Cardiff, took an intensive driving course and says they can work.

“I did about 20 hours of normal lessons earlier this year so I felt I had a good driving knowledge.

"But this summer I decided to take a two-week intensive course to finish off as I wanted to pass my test before I went to university.

“As it happens, I didn’t complete the course as I went on holiday so I haven’t passed my test yet but I am thinking about taking it again.”

Sinead admits that if she hadn’t had previous driving lessons, she “probably” wouldn’t have signed up to an intensive course.

But she doesn’t think an outright ban would be fair.

She adds: “If you look at the young people that are involved in accidents, you can’t say that these were caused by them taking intensive courses. So a ban on this basis does seem unfair.”

Alcohol ban

For newly qualified drivers, the ABI is calling for an alcohol ban, restrictions on driving between 11pm and 4am and the number of passengers they can carry for two years after taking their test.

After this time, drivers would sit another test to “ensure that they are safe to drive on all types of roads.”

Should driving skills be taught at school?

The AA says these proposals are “unworkable” and is instead calling for driver education to start at school, forming part of the national curriculum.

In January the AA will  follow a number of insurance firms by offering telematic or black box technology, to help insure young drivers.

This technology measures driving performance, including speed, braking and control, and drivers who handle the road well can benefit from lower premiums.

What do you think: Would a ban on intensive driving courses make our roads safer? Should a ban only apply to under-25s or people of all ages? Is the answer to teach driving skills from an early age, in school? Leave your thoughts on the comments board below.


Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick

Naphtalia Loderick covers all things consumer for She started out on a weekly newspaper, via a national news agency and a stint in the fun but ‘not as glamorous as it appears on screen’ world of TV at the BBC researching consumer films for The One Show.

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