A report by The Department for Transport has found that drivers who pass their test first time round are generally more careful on the road and therefore less likely to be involved in a collision.
However the research by TRL also noted that these first time successes were more likely to commit violations and aggressive violations than those who passed on subsequent attempts.
Further research by the company, formerly known as the Transport Research Laboratory, also stated that drivers who received more extensive tuition were less likely to have an accident in the first six months of driving.
The research undoubtedly supports the recent overhaul in driving tests that has encouraged and enforced driving agencies and instructors to move away from the short-term measure of teaching pupils how to pass their test, rather than how to drive.
The research by the TRL however is fairly obvious in its conclusions.
In many ways, it is similar to the great education debate regarding a watering down of examinations. Surely common sense says people who pass any test first time are generally going to be better suited to that subject than those who require two, three or many more attempts to reach the same satisfactory levels?
The more interesting evidence found by the research related to the higher skill levels of drivers who had received more tuition than those who hadn’t.
Again this may seem fairly obvious but it begs the question: should there be a standardised number of driving lessons taken before potential drivers are entitled to take their driving tests?
Currently, there is no required number of lessons for learner drivers; rather they take the test when they feel they are ready. In the majority of cases this will be an advised decision from an instructor or relative, but it does not have to be.
For those receiving lessons from a relative or friend a test can be taken whenever the learner wishes. Even if they have had no lessons - although it would probably be a waste of money - there remains a slim chance that under beneficial driving conditions, they could fluke a pass.
My first test, which I failed, was taken at 3:30 pm on a Wednesday afternoon, during school term time. A bit of a faux pas on my behalf because, in the area of my test route, there was about 15 schools. Now it would be arrogant of me to place all the blame of me failing on other drivers – I did go through a red light – but it certainly didn’t help.
At the other end of the spectrum is a test at midday on a Monday morning where, chances are, the roads will be devoid of anyone. In other words more conducive to passing.
Obviously we require testing to be stringent enough to sniff out the novices, but people can still slip through the net.
The research by TRL points actively to the fact that drivers with more experience are better drivers and involved in fewer accidents. Therefore would it not make sense to agree a standardised number of hours in a car before young drivers are entitled to apply for their tests?
The obvious down fall of this solution is expense; some people simply cannot afford to take lessons over such an extended period of time. Therefore should it fall to the government to solve this?
As has been widely reported, road safety is a premium topic of debate in the automotive world at the moment. Budget cuts have led to a reduction in funding for road safety and as such the government and automotive think-tanks are fervently looking for a solution to that problem.
This may seem overly simple, but the problem extends from one source: the driver. If we look to minimise driver mistakes as much as we can, bringing in a standardised tuition period could road-accidents.
Undoubtedly they will still exist, but common sense would point towards extra tuition reducing the chances of collisions as the TRL research has indicated.
Would a means tested system to fund driving lessons, in the same vein as student tuition fees, enable those who cannot afford the lessons, afford them?
Those who can afford the allotted number of lessons carry on paying.
Driving is a luxury, and like it or not, a risk. Therefore it should not be a free-for-all to get on the road as fast as possible, rather a measured approach that improves the skills of those driving on our roads.