Category archives: News

Young Drivers Commentary


Tomorrow the RSGB Young Driver Focus conference and awards will be taking place in London, where we have been shortlisted in one of the categories. Which very neatly follows on from a new report from Co-Operative Insurance Young people in the driving seat, which took my eye.

With the failure of the young driver’s green paper to make it through the coalition government, it seems as though the likelihood of GDL and a full review of the learning experience coming up again on the agenda any time soon is slim at best. However, this report identifies that of their sample, the majority are keen to have many these changes implemented. Changes such as; Longer or fixed learning periods, to include driving on the motorways, and at night.

However, as practitioners, we have very little influence over decisions that are made at the top level, so what can we do to improve the situation?

Traditional road safety practice would be to tell them all how much they are at risk just by being both young and a driver, and that they must not do all of the things that they already know are bad. Indeed, the report does point out that 24% admit to break the speed limits, 16% use the phone while driving, and 10% get easily distracted.

However, when we take a look at these statements again from the opposite view…; 76% don’t break the speed limits, 84% don’t use their phones while driving, and 90% don’t easily get distracted.

All in all, the majority of these young people are doing the right things, this reflects a lot of our own research. As a demographic, the young people of today are all round much better behaved in general. They have incredibly low intentions of performing bad behaviours, but by constantly telling them what not to do, they are coming to the assumption that more people do these bad things than actually do.

Our approach is to use the carrot rather than the stick. We flip things on their head and use positive framing and messaging to help them realise that hardly anyone is doing these bad things, because just like you thought; they’re stupid.

We try to instil a sense of cultural change among this age group by improving the ‘social norm’ around Young Drivers and their behaviour. We don’t deny that they are at greater risk, but not because they do stupid things, but because they are inexperienced. We encourage them to take longer to learn and to expose themselves to different kinds of driving situations before taking their test.

We may not be able to change the law, but we can encourage self-regulation among these younger people to try and fill the gap that GDL is yet to fill.

Co-operative Insurance were earlier adopters and advocates of telematics insurance, a system that monitors their driving and provides rewards for good driving in the form of discounts off their premium. It’s a mechanism of encouragement for the driver to be as good as they can be.

This combined with positive social messaging can help progress society without the need for legal changes to help instigate it.

DriveStart is an innovative program aimed at doing just this. Delivered through a growing programme of experience days, support for accompanying drivers and extensive online and social media engagement, it uses positive messaging to encourage a wider change in perceptions, not just in an individual.

Winter 2016: Be Prepared

The beginning of December marks the beginning of meteorological winter. While this year seems somewhat mild so far, it still means that roads are wet, winds are high, and evenings are foggy. To ensure that you are as prepared as you can be, to see you safely through until spring, Safer Roads are offering useful advice; to help motorists to stay safe this winter.

Wet or icy roads will greatly affect the way in which your car will handle and brake. Even this will vary depending on how good the tyres fitted to your car are. Stopping distances can be increased by as much as 10 times on icy roads and twice as much on wet roads.

Leave plenty of room between you and the car in the front giving you more time to react and slow down safely if necessary. Don’t just rely on your brakes to slow you down, use your gears to control your speed.

The simplest advice is to leave a little longer for your journey than you would have otherwise. Poor road conditions mean that traveling may be rather slow going, and can lead to a build-up in traffic. No one likes being late, so by giving yourself an extra few minutes, you should be avoiding a whole lot of stress. Check your route before leaving to see if there are any delays and listen out for traffic reports in case you have to alter your planned route.

Your windscreen will become very dirty over winter, with all of the salt and mud on the roads. Remember to keep topping up your washer fluid levels with a good winter mix and check your wiper blades are still in good working order. You should also keep a dry cloth (or paper towels) inside the car to wipe clear the inside of the windscreen.

Remember to do regular checks of all of your car’s lights front, back and side. If you do find that a bulb has gone, replace it immediately. Check in your car’s handbook for the kind of bulb you need. They’re not always all the same fitting. If you’re still not sure, take it to a garage or ask for advice from a motor accessories retailer. A full guide on preparing your car for winter is on the website via the link below.

Finally the Highway Code advises that you carry an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, warm clothing and boots, first aid kit, jump leads and a shovel, together with a warm drink and emergency food in case you get stuck or your vehicle breaks down.

For a more advice, and for a full winter maintenance guide, you can visit

Advice for the Rural Motorist

Vehicle Maintenance; visibility and traction are very important of rural roads and these are things that you should attend to before you even start your journey.

Ensuring that your headlights are clean and clear will give you the best forward view especially as the nights are drawing in and clocks are about to change. Windscreen wipers should be checked as well to ensure that they are not split and keep the majority of the windscreen clear for the driver to maintain optimal view. Also ensure that you have a good mix of washer fluid that will really help to shift the heavy spray that is picked up off rural roads.

Tyre performance is all the more critical on rural roads which are more susceptible to patchy frost and mud from agricultural vehicles. Check that you have at least 2mm of tread depth on all tyres and consider winter tyres as most compounds perform less well when the temperature drops below 7 degrees.

Speed Choice; as well as the potential for slippery road surfaces due to mud or frost there are other important reasons to keep your speeds down on rural roads.
You are likely to encounter sharper bends on rural roads where the speed you carry into the corner will affect your ability to maintain control throughout. If you ensure that you brake going into the corner you can gently accelerate through which gives you the best control over the vehicle.

Rural roads are often used by agricultural traffic that may be travelling at much slower speeds than you. This differential in speed can be an extra risk factor, expect the Unexpected; continually ask yourself what might I come across around the next bend? It might be a rambler, a cyclist, a horse rider, a deer or badger, or even an escaped animal from the local farm. Have you allowed for it and are you prepared for it? If you don’t expect these possibilities you will not be prepared to take action when needed.

Over 40% of Berkshire road casualties are injured on rural roads.

The UK Government is re-launching a campaign today in a bid to reduce the massive impact of road traffic crashes occurring on rural roads across Britain. Now, Safer Roads can reveal that the proportion of these casualties in Berkshire is falling.

Safer Roads, Berkshire has looked at both casualties on roads in the county and also anyone from Berkshire who has been injured in a road traffic crash anywhere in the country.

Nationally, the Department for Transport are reporting that 3 people are losing their lives on rural roads each day. In Berkshire last year the total number of deaths on rural roads was 8 and the number is 17% lower than it was in 2012.

The other factor that the Department for Transport are drawing attention to is the proportion of rural road crashes that occur whilst on a bend. In Berkshire there were 117 casualties in vehicles that were on a bend in a rural road at the time of the crash.

Safer Roads Director, Dan Campsall, speaking about the figures said, “Whilst the news locally is positive, there are still around 1,000 county residents who are injured each year on rural roads; that’s nearly 20 every week. The combination of bends, variance in traffic speeds, potential for vulnerable road users and changing surface conditions make these some of the hardest roads to navigate. It is vitally important that drivers pay extra attention and slow down on these roads which don’t benefit from the safety features you might find on a motorway.”

Road Safety Minister, Andrew Jones, said: “Every injury and death on our roads is a tragedy and that is why the new THINK! country road campaign is so important. We want the public to anticipate potential hazards on the road when driving in the countryside, to watch their speed and take care when approaching a bend.”

Drivestart Event (August 2015)


Workshops include:
Advice on buying a second hand car, Post-accident first aid, Cause and effect of traffic accidents, Advice on legal requirements, Hazards facing new drivers, and a taster driving lesson.

Thursday 27th August: 9:15am – 4pm (Ages 15 – 17)
Woodley Airfield Youth Centre, Hurricane Way, RG5 4UX

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