Agenda 2001: Safety Programme May Be a Risk to Life
Byline: JOHN VON RADOWITZ
A GOVERNMENT safety programme aimed at young drivers could cause more teenagers to die on the roads, experts said yesterday.
Young people aged 17 to 21 make up 7 per cent of driving licence holders, but represented 13 per cent of motorists involved in crashes resulting in an injury.
Road safety lessons in schools and colleges, aimed at 16 to 18-year-olds, have been introduced to tackle the problem as part of a Government plan to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 40 per cent.
The education package developed by the Driving Standards Agency includes presentations by driving examiners, theoretical and practical tests, and road safety tuition.
But, in the Lancet medical journal , a team of public health experts argue that the lessons might do more harm than good.
Researchers from the Institute of Child Health and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine reviewed the findings of three large studies of school driver education experiments in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, involving about 18,000 teenagers. The results showed that teenage-driver education led young people to obtain driving licences at an earlier age.
"They provide no evidence that driver education reduces road crash involvement, and suggest that it may lead to a modest but potentially important increase in the proportion of teenagers involved in traffic crashes," the researchers wrote. …