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Cross party support for Young and Novice Drivers and Graduated Driver Licensing

7th April 2014

Highland Councillors are united in their support for proposed new legislation aimed at cutting accidents on our roads involving young drivers.

Leaders of all political groupings on the Council back the introduction of a Graduated Driver Licensing system for new drivers in Scotland, which would restrict their permissions in driving unsupervised until they have gained adequate experience. And in letters confirming the Council’s support to the UK and Scottish Governments the Council makes an offer for the Highlands to pilot the scheme.

Councillor Drew Millar, Chairman of the Community Safety, Public Engagement and Equalities Committee states: “We very much support the recommendation of the Scottish Parliament that the UK Government be asked to develop proposals to undertake a pilot Graduated Driver Licensing Scheme in Scotland and would be happy for the Highlands and Islands to be considered as a suitable area to undertake such a pilot.”

He added: “We have an extensive road network in the Highlands, with several major arterial routes (A9, A82 and A96), a significant number of B routes and rural roads with different safety issues on each road. In 2011/12 there were 3,593 road collisions, of which 488 resulted in an injury and of these 16 were fatal.
“The rate of fatalities is the highest in Scotland and three times higher than that for Scotland as a whole (12.9 per 100,000 in Highland compared to 4.4 per 100,000 for Scotland). In almost a third of Highland cases fatal road collisions involve motorcycles. Most fatalities are among young men.”

Councillor Deirdre Mackay said: “Accidents involving young drivers are more likely to involve multiple casualties so it is imperative that we do all we can to help reduce avoidable deaths and serious accidents. I have been actively involved with the Driving Ambitions initiative for many years and while youngsters believe it to be effective in raising awareness of safer driving it is not in itself sufficient to address some of the key issues underlying accidents. The measures involved in this bill have a proven track record elsewhere in the world and is to be welcomed.”

Councillor Gail Ross, said: “I am delighted that the council has taken forward our proposal to support the Scottish Parliament and back the proposed GDL scheme. This initiative has become one of the most important and pressing pieces of potential legislation in Scotland for some time and I applaud David Stewart MSP for the amount of work he has put in to get it this far. We have cross party agreement in the Scottish Parliament and in council because everyone realises the importance of the issue.

“The amount of people, especially young people killed and seriously injured on our roads in Highland is completely unacceptable and anything that can be done to reduce it has to be welcomed and actioned immediately. We now call on Westminster to introduce a bill in Parliament that will allow us to go ahead and pilot this vital scheme.”

The Institute of Advanced Motorists lists four reasons why young male drivers are more likely to be involved in accident:-

· Inexperience and poor judgment in more difficult driving conditions.

· Inadequate control of the car, resulting in single-vehicle accidents, skidding, overturning or leaving the road.

· Lifestyle and attitudes (Alcohol, drugs and peer pressure).

· Economic. Young drivers are more likely to have cheaper, older cars, which offer them less protection from injury than newer vehicles and are less likely to be fitted with technology that reduces the risk of crashes occurring, such as differential braking, which reduces the loss of control at bends.


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