Government to be more strict about young drivers

Insurance brokers GoCompare have released research that shows motorists in Britain would like the Government to be more strict about young drivers. They believe stronger road discipline for those aged between 17 to 24, such as driving curfews, would improve road safety.

GoCompare commissioned the research which questioned 2000 motorists and found that 50% believed the Government should introduce a zero drink-drive policy for young drivers. 49% said they would like to see newly-qualified drivers choice in a car restricted to vehicles with smaller engines. 40% also indicated they liked the idea of behaviour-based car insurance policies for young drivers.

A curfew to prevent young drivers from driving at high risk times, such as after dark and late at night, was backed by 28% of those surveyed. 34% believe the police should have powers to issue and enforce an instant short-term ban on young motorists caught driving recklessly and 28% agree that young drivers should be barred from carrying passengers in their cars until they have gained a specific amount of driving experience.

Young, newly qualified drivers are a vulnerable group of motorists. Young male drivers aged between 17 and 20 are 10 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads than their older counterparts. Statistics like these drive their claims costs up to 3 times higher than the average. 29% of the younger drivers questioned by GoCompare.com admitted the often broke the speed limit.

GoCompare.com’s Head of Motor Services Scott Kelly commented that: “The results of this study suggest that UK drivers feel it’s time to consider radical new measures to try to curb the number of accidents caused by young drivers, and that perhaps as a group they should be more restricted in how, when or what they can drive.”

Car manufacturer Ford is way ahead of GoCompare.com it seems. The company has designed the MyKey system that can be used in their Ford Fiesta model [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21483160] which allows the parent or guardian of a young driver to impose speed limits and even volume control on the car stereo system.

Using a master ignition key to set a number of electronic restrictions and instructions in the car the young driver uses a key that identifies them as the secondary driver. Their key is unable to override any instruction given by the master ignition key, instead warnings are flashed up on the screen if the driver is getting close to the imposed speed limit and the volume won’t go any higher than the master key settings allow.

Systems can be disabled until all the seatbelts are fastened using the Beltminder and parents can check the car data to see how many miles have been covered, speeds reached and fuel consumed. The system is a no-cost option on the Fiesta and a new key (up to 8 can be provided for a car) will cost between £30 and £50.

The system was first introduced in the USA in 2009 with the speed limit of 80mph and the option for parents to decide if warning tones should sound when speeds of 45, 55 or 65mph are reached. But it has only been made available in Britain late last year. Now with the recent addition of the option to have an automatic connection to the emergency services in the event of an accident. The driver without the master ignition key is also prevented from deactivating any safety technologies such as the Electronic Stability Control and Active City Stop – these help prevent low speed collisions.

Ford’s European MyKey system architect, Peter Patzelt said: “All parents know that if teenagers are experts at one thing, it’s finding ways of getting into trouble, MyKey allows Fiesta owners to set sensible restrictions for young drivers, and delivers peace-of-mind for parents.”

MyKey also reminds young drivers of low fuel levels sooner than usual car systems, the driver gets a warning sound 125km before fuel is likely to run out, this is instead of the more usual 80km before that point.

The hope is the MyKey technology will help instil better driving discipline and habits in young drivers who use it. Pim van der Jagt, the Managing Director at Ford’s Aachen research centre said that the system gives parents the option to provide a young driver with extra safety precautions without impinging on their independence: “It also encourages safety values.”

In the USA Ford conducted its own survey about how MyKey technology appeals: “MyKey is appealing to parents of teen drivers, including 75 percent who like the speed-limiting feature, 72 percent who like the more insistent safety-belt reminder, and 63 percent who like the audio limiting feature, according to a Harris Interactive Survey conducted for Ford.”

According to the Harris Interactive Survey 50% would be more inclined to allow their teenage driver to use their car more if it were fitted with MyKey technology.

GoCompare Scott Kelly: “perhaps some tighter control of young motorists would encourage responsible driving from the outset and could help to make the UK’s roads safer for everyone.”

Do you think MyKey will have much of an impact on the road safety of young drivers? Or would a Government crackdown help?

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