Transcript of the Transport Committee Engagement event with young people as part of their Young and Novice Driver’s Inquiry.
Wednesday 23 September 2020, 09:30-11:00
14 attendees from 4 colleges
Altrincham Grammar Girls School
Frankie Jane Donaghy-Roering
Harris Academy Chafford Hundred
Queen Elizabeth’s School
Chair: Welcome to all of the students and also to all the Members of the Transport Select Committee. My name is Huw Merriman I’m the Chair of the Transport Select Committee and I’m the Member of Parliament for Bexhill and Battle Constituency in East Sussex. You’re all very welcome this morning. We on the Transport Select Committee are responsible for scrutinising policy and performance of the transport sector, with regard to government and then the agencies and all the operators. What we do is we have inquiries and we hold evidence sessions, with witnesses and experts, and you’re our witnesses and experts today. We then come up with recommendations and reports, and with those recommendations the government is required to either accept them or reject them and explain, with evidence, why they’re not accepting them. We would like to hope that we’re a force for good, force for change, to do better in the transport sector. And that goes all the way across transport so rail, bus, road, maritime, aviation; we’ve just done a large report on aviation and what’s happening to our airlines and airports from the coronavirus pandemic. This session is not related to coronavirus, so it’s nice to have something that’s not directly related to the pandemic, it’s all about young and novice drivers. We’re interested in the risks that young drivers face, the fact that you’re more likely to be involved in collisions and also the cost to you with regard to insurance. Another aspect is the social mobility so for those of you that perhaps are in more rural settings, or even in urban settings, if you haven’t got a car, or use of car, does that hold you back in terms of your ability to interact, to get work experience, to earn money and then how does that impact on your life chances. That’s a particular focus for us, not least because the bus service is not as it was when I was your age.
That’s our inquiry that we’re looking at. We’ve had a whole series of witnesses come before us. The first session we were quite struck; we had two fathers who’d lost their daughters through road collisions. One was a pedestrian just walking home from her ballet class and she was killed when a young driver mounted a pavement and the other gentlemen his daughter was lost when there were five cars speeding on a motorway, all with young drivers, and she was with her mum and her sister and she lost her life. So they’re campaigners for more road safety improvements. We also had organisations including Brake, who are the lead organisation for road safety, and they were virtually calling for more restrictions and that’s what we want to talk to you about today. What I want to do now is to ask each of the student groups to introduce themselves and then I’m going to ask my Members to come on and introduce themselves as well. Let’s start with Harris Academy Chafford Hundred. I’m going to ask Sophie to introduce yourself and your college:
Sophie W: I’m Sophie and this is Chloe and we’re from Harris Academy Chafford Hundred.
Chair: Thanks. Let’s go to Altrincham Girl’s School and Hedya.
Hedya: Hi I’m Hedya and we are Altrincham Girls Grammar School in Manchester. This is Helena, Emily, Maria and Victoria.
Chair: Welcome to all five of you. Next, I’ll go to Queen Elizabeth’s College and Jack
Jack: Hi I’m Jack from Queen Elizabeth’s College and this is Freya, Mia and Alex.
Chair: And then last but not least Barnsley College. So Harvey
Harvey: Hello I’m Harvey. We’ve got Sophie and Frankie
Chair: Now we’re going to ask Members of the Select Committee to introduce themselves. We’re a cross party group of MPs so we’re represented by Conservative MPs, Labour MPs and the SNP from Scotland as well. We work collaboratively together and hopefully that will be exemplified when the Members introduce themselves.
Ruth Cadbury: I’m Ruth Cadbury, I was elected in 2015 as the Labour MP for Brentford and Isleworth which is in West London.
Greg Smith: Good morning I’m Greg Smith and I’m the Conservative MP for the Buckingham constituency which is 335 square miles of North Buckinghamshire and I was elected for the first time last December.
Lilian Greenwood: Hi I’m Lilian and I’m Labour MP for Nottingham South
Simon Jupp: I’m the new MP for East Devon which is of course the best county in Britain.
Chris Loder: Good morning I’m Chris Loder the Conservative MP for West Dorset.
Gavin Newlands: Good morning and thank you for joining us. I’m the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North and elected in 2015.
Karl McCartney: I’m Karl McCartney Member of Parliament for Lincoln in sunny Lincolnshire. First elected in 2010, lost in 2017 and re-elected in 2019.
Robert Largan: I’m Robert Largan MP for High Peak
Chair: We do have two other Members, but I’m afraid they can’t be with us they are Grahame Morris and Sam Tarry who are both Labour MPs. I think I’m right in saying that all the Members are all in Parliament, but due to COVID restrictions we can’t all be in the same room.
The first thing we want to discuss with you is your driving, your experience and a bit about how you feel about driving matters. And then in our second session we’re going to go through our policy recommendations. What I hope we can do is have a really good discussion, the Members will ask you questions, do give us your views. It’s vital for us when we finally make the recommendations that we don’t just listen to organisations, perhaps with people who have been driving for longer, giving their views on what should happen to you and your generation. We actually want to hear from you, so that you can tell us if you want more restrictions on your driving, or fewer restrictions, or things to stay as they are. Also, whether you think it’s too costly in terms of insurance and what more can be done with technology. We’re really interested in your views.
Chair: Let’s start with the obvious question. If I go to each of the schools and you can tell me if you’re actually driving or learning to drive at the moment. So Harris Academy, Sophie do you want to tell us if you’re learning:
Sophie W: I’ve started learning to drive
Chloe: I’ve only just started to this week.
Chair: Sophie when you started were you impacted by the COVID restrictions in your ability to take lessons?
Sophie W: Not really because I started last year.
Chair: So you both have driving experience. I should declare an interest I’m actually teaching my eldest daughter to drive at the moment which makes for an interesting experience. Altrincham, how about yourselves?
Hedya: (beginning unclear) I’m learning to
Emily: I’m learning to drive and should hopefully be able to take my test in November. That’s booked.
Helena: I’m currently learning to drive.
Maria: I’m learning to drive. I’ve had a few lessons.
Victoria: I’m learning as well.
Chair: So, so far all of you are learning. Let’s keep this going so Queen Elizabeth’s College
Jack: I’m learning to drive as well
Freya: No, I’m not learning. Mainly because of the practicalities of not being able to keep a car at university otherwise I think I would be learning.
Mia: I can’t learn to drive as I’m not old enough but as soon as I’m 17 I will be learning how to. I can’t wait.
Alex: Yeah, I’m the same as Mia I can’t learn to drive yet but I have driven before on private land so I do know how to use a car.
Chair: One of the things we’re going to be asking you is whether you should be able to learn to drive earlier than 16 so you might have an interest in that. Finally, Barnsley College.
Harvey: I’m learning to drive and I started three weeks ago
Sophie B: I’m not learning to drive yet because I can’t really afford to own and run a car and I intend to go to a university where there will be good public transport.
Frankie: I’ve only been taking informal lessons with my parents so not really learning to drive with an actual instructor.
Chair: Could I ask you why that is? Is that down to cost?
Frankie: It’s cheaper with my parents.
Chair: So that’s an interesting spread. Bar a couple of exceptions all of you are either learning to drive right now or will do so when you get to the age you can so that makes for an interesting take. We want to go on to your motivations and a couple of you have touched on it, so we’re going to go over to Lilian.
Lilian Greenwood: So with the exception I think of Sophie and Freya, who said they weren’t learning to drive partly cost and partly because they were hoping when they got to uni they’d be able to go on public transport- I’ve got two unis in my constituency so I’m really glad when people use public transport and don’t bring a car- the rest of who seem really keen to learn to drive as soon as you possibly can. What’s the main motivation? Is it because you want to be able to go out with mates, or to travel to work? Let’s start with Barnsley.
Harvey: Basically, my parents are paying me through it. I’m going to go to university and I’m not going to take a car it’s just about learning now so when I have a job and more responsibilities, I don’t have to do it later in life.
Lilian Greenwood: Fantastic. Frankie what do you think?
Frankie: I’m really looking forward to driving because I come in from a different town into Barnsley to learn and where I live is really rural so it’s hard to get anywhere with public transport. And it’s just cheaper; it’s really expensive to get a bus.
Lilian Greenwood: How much does it cost to get a bus to come in from where you are?
Frankie: The other day I got a 5 minute bus journey into my town centre and it cost £3 one way.
Lilian Greenwood: Where do you live?
Frankie: Rotherham. It’s just the town over
Lilian Greenwood: And Sophie you said you can’t afford it, what’s the alternative like where you are?
Sophie B: Not great. I have to walk 15 minutes to get to my nearest bus stop that actually runs buses to places that I need to go. I have a 16-18 pass but without it would cost £3.20 to get a bus.
Harvey: I will add a balance for you. Near my house there’s loads of bus stops, straight into town 15 minutes, no nonsense.
Lilian Greenwood: So what’s it like in Altrincham? I think all of you were learning to drive is it because there’s no alternative, or because it offers more possibility.
Maria: There’s not much urgency because, especially in Manchester we have this bus pass for 16-18 year olds and the public transport’s really good here. My university course actually requires experience in driving so there was that as well that was motivating me to be learning to drive.
Lilian Greenwood: What are you hoping to be studying?
Maria: I was looking at Paramedic Science so experience is good.
Lilian Greenwood: So Manchester is pretty good for public transport, and we know about the concessionary bus pass, because we did an inquiry on that. Any other reasons for learning to drive in Altrincham?
Helena: I don’t live in Greater Manchester so I can’t get the bus pass so it would actually be cheaper if I passed my test and I can drive around. It’s more freedom and cheaper because the bus to get to school is pretty expensive.
Lilian Greenwood: And what’s the motivation in Essex?
Chloe: You get a lot more independence. And I don’t live in Chafford Hundred, I live outside it so getting here I’m quite reliant on my mum.
Sophie W: I think we’re pretty good for public transport. We have lots of buses and we have a train station close by. Where I work I have to rely on my parents to take me there so it’s really good to be able to do it yourself and not rely on anyone else.
Lilian Greenwood: Do either of you get lifts with your friends who can drive?
Sophie W: Not often.
Lilian Greenwood: Just wondered if your mums and dads had views about getting lifts with other young drivers?
Sophie W: I think if we knew people who can it would be different but there’s not a lot of people who do drive.
Lilian Greenwood: And finally, down in Devon what’s the big thing that makes you want to drive?
Jack: Well, personally for me I live 5 miles from any civilisation, so it makes it very impractical for public transport. I really need a car.
Lilian Greenwood: What’s the alternative? Is it taxi of mum and dad?
Jack: Well my parents are both professionals they work long hours so it’s getting dropped somewhere within their time frame. So, for meeting up with people it makes it quite difficult.
Mia: I feel that learning to drive really helps with being independent and you can also be quite spontaneous. I also feel that if I don’t learn to drive as soon as I’m 17 when will I, because as you’re getting older you have to get a job and then you won’t have the time to learn.
Freya: I think on the contrary actually. It’s very busy trying to do A-levels, especially if you’re doing a competitive university application, and then you will most likely have to do refresher lessons once you’ve got through university which will be a period of not driving. So given how expensive learning to drive is at the moment, despite the impracticality of a rural location, it’s just not viable for me to learn.
Lilian Greenwood: And what’s the alternative? Do you rely on lifts or using a bus?
Freya: Since lockdown I have barely left our locality, but previously I used to rely on the bus and my parents a great deal. I just think having to afford lessons and a car, because both my parents need their vehicles pretty much all the time so there would be no time for me to take it out and learn. So a vehicle, lessons, regular practice and then of course the cost of insurance have just made it not really an option in light of the fact that I won’t be driving for some years once I leave.
Lilian Greenwood: Those of you who are learning to drive can you put your hand up?
9 hands raised to indicate learning to drive
Lilian Greenwood: And those of you who are learning to drive how many will actually have your own car?
3 hands raised to show that they will own their own car.
Lilian Greenwood: Thanks so much some really interesting answers.
Chair: Thanks Lilian. We’re now going to ask Greg Smith and Greg represents a rural constituency so he’s going to talk about your experiences of it living in a rural, or urban area, for driving.
Greg Smith: It was great to hear so many of you saying you want to learn to drive. From my perspective there can be no greater manifestation of freedom than the ability of learning to drive and getting behind the wheel of car and go where you want to go. I think that some of the points that I was going to raise came up in Lilian’s questioning around the practicalities of if you’re in a rural location that often there is no choice, the buses don’t operate on any frequent enough timetable etc. But can I ask you if you took any practical considerations out i.e. whether it’s getting to school, or going to university, or just socialising with friends how many of you that are learning to drive would do so anyway as a matter of principle? Even if you had perfect public transport, or someone at your beck and call to drop you wherever you wanted to go. Shall we start in Devon?
Jack: Personally, I’d learn to drive anyway. Cars and classic cars are a big thing in my family so it’s kind of something that we do. So yeah I’d learn to drive.
Mia: Even with a lot of public transport I would definitely still learn because I think it’s really important to.
Alex: I probably wouldn’t learn to drive. I think with environmental considerations public transport, if it was perfect, would definitely be how I got around. But with how public transport is down in Devon I think car is just the easiest route.
Freya: I mean I’m not learning, and don’t intend to for a while, but ultimately I definitely will especially in the pandemic conditions. I think if we had perfect public transport yes, it would be great to use it in theory, but given like face coverings and social distancing it’s recently become a whole lot more attractive to have your own personal form of transport.
Greg Smith: That’s really interesting, can I pick up on that point? I come in to Westminster from Buckinghamshire everyday on the train, and I hate wearing face mask, it’s a vile thing to do, but does everybody agree with that point that you would rather go to the potentially additional expense, you would rather go to the effort or learning to drive, get the car, hiring the car whatever it might be rather than go through all the various coronavirus measures that are in place at the moment when getting on a bus or a train?
Freya. Yes. It’s definitely become a big motivating factor. If these coronavirus measures stay around it will certainly be a strong factor in telling you to drive as soon as you possibly can.
Greg Smith: That’s interesting. What does Altrincham think of that?
Victoria: I think learning to drive is something that you’re told you should probably do. Like your parents learn to drive, and then they drive around so it seems like something that you should do anyway.
Marie: I think it’s in line with that point earlier about independence because if you learn to drive you become less dependent, not just on your parents, but on public transport because there is always that risk that the bus is going to break down, or you’re going to be late somewhere. So there’s that thing of I’m becoming an adult and learning to drive and all the things that come with that.
Greg Smith: Ok and what about this point that we’re all wearing masks on public transport but very few people, including myself as I said, like doing it. How do you feel about whether it’s actually better to learn to drive and go in your own transport than have to put up with all the restrictions on public transport?
Victoria: I think during my driving lessons anyway you still have restrictions on your driving lesson so it’s the same restrictions as if you were getting a bus, you still have to wear a mask in your lesson because you’re in a confined space.
Greg Smith: I agree, but once you’ve passed your test you won’t have to wear a mask in your own car so is that a factor in your thinking or do you not see it as a factor?
Maria: I don’t see that as a factor, because if it bothers you that much there’s always the option to learn to drive. It doesn’t bother me anyway, because I have to wear it around school so if I’m wearing it around school what difference does it make wearing a mask on public transport.
Greg Smith: Thank you very much. Let’s go to Barnsley. What do you think about the freedom points and also the coronavirus points?
Harvey: I’m not that fussed. You’ve just got to live with it and carry on. If you’ve got to put a mask on you’ve got to put a mask on. If you’re saving somebody else’s life.
Sophie B: It seems like a really expensive solution to a minor inconvenience.
Greg Smith: What about that central point that we started on around forgetting the practicalities. Is learning to drive something that you’ve always passionately wanted to do, like our colleague in Devon whose family loves cars and classic cars or is a practical thing?
Frankie: Buses around me, they’re always late, they’re never reliable and they’re just kind of overwhelming for me in particular because I have additional needs so driving would be a much better experience for me.
Harvey: I see it totally as practical. I don’t care about cars it’s just getting from A to B. And I’d rather get on public transport because you can relax, listen to music and getting ready. I just prefer it.
Sophie B: I enjoy the idea of being able to have free movement and travel with luggage and stuff without it being a big hassle, but generally speaking if public transport was perfect and you could get anywhere without a car I don’t think it would be such a big deal to have to learn to drive.
Harvey: And I think in Barnsley were surrounded by Wakefield, Sheffield Leeds, so there’s all these places, Rotherham, all these places where we can get to with public transport.
Frankie: But you can’t
Greg Smith: That’s very interesting. I think we’ll go to Harris Academy. Just to get your thoughts on whether practicalities aside driving is something that actually instinctively or passionately you want to do; is something that you think would be good for your life. And secondly, the impact of coronavirus, do the various restrictions that we’re all putting up with on public transport actually put you off going on public transport and you’d much rather be in your own vehicle-or borrowed a vehicle-on your own and not needing to wear a mask or go through any of the other restrictions.
Chloe: I think it’s just a lot more practical, regardless of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s just a lot easier to have your own access, and to be able to get anywhere and not have to rely on buses, because as someone else said they can be quite unreliable. If it was perfect it would be a lot easier but I still think that I’d want to drive. I think it makes it so much calmer.
Sophie W: I think it’s the idea of having the freedom to be able to drive is really enticing, especially to be able to go to work for example.
Greg Smith: Fantastic. Thank you all so much for your answers. I wish all of you who are learning to drive the best of luck and hopefully pass first time and enjoy many, many happy years of driving.
Chair: Thanks Greg I think you touched on something really interesting and I wouldn’t mind doing the hands again if that’s alright? What I’m going to do is ask you if as a result of COVID, and the restrictions on public transport in terms of face masks and the like, or maybe you see increased danger you would be more likely to use your car, or less likely, or actually it doesn’t make any difference.
Again, I’ll just run through that. Because of COVID restrictions on public transport does that make you more likely to want to drive, does it make it less likely, or does it have no impact on your decision at all.
So, who is more likely to use a car as a result of that?
8 hands raised
Who would say less likely?
No hands raised
I didn’t think anyone would say that such a stupid option on my part. So, the other, and just put your hand up so we’ve got it, it would make no difference in your choice?
6 hands raised
Ok about half and half. Thanks for that Greg a great point to pick up. We’ve had a question from Labour, a question from Conservative so now we’re going to go north of the border Gavin Newland.
Gavin Newlands: Hello. Good morning. Sorry a bit of a lag with the tech. We’re going to move on to potential accidents and it’s a fact that young drivers between 17 and 24 are three times more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents than the rest of the driving population so I just want to get your opinion on what that might be. And we’ll start in Essex.
Chloe: I think for young people it’s like the idea of freedom and they want to go places fast and I think most of the accidents are because of speed. I think that does have an impact and plays a role.
Sophie W: I think just like the inexperience as well, we’re not as used to all these other, more experienced drivers around you who might have bad habits. I think it’s just a bit overwhelming when they first start to drive, and I think there are situations when they get nervous and they end up in accidents.
Gavin Newlands: OK thanks. Barnsley?
Harvey: I think when you’re younger you might be more likely to have accidents just because you might be a little bit more immature, or you might be trying to impress a friend in the back of the car about how fast you can go. But I think normal people and the majority are sensible and just don’t try and impress friends and stuff like that.
Frankie: I’m going to add a counter argument to that. I don’t think it’s fair that a lot of people blame young people for accidents but then they’re the ones speeding around because they see an L plate and it’s just mainly their fault.
Gavin Newlands: That’s a fair point. And to come back to the point that was just made I think the trying to impress your passengers is something that’s come up before, that the driver can also be distracted, but I think that’s a very good point that they could also be trying to impress passengers. I think that the 17-year olds, very young drivers, they are four times more likely to have accidents with passengers in the car than when driving themselves. So that’s a very good point. Can we go down to Devon now and get your take on it.
Alex: I think the problem with young drivers isn’t that they’re reckless, I mean there are exceptions to that, but I don’t think it’s recklessness. I think the problems stem from lack of experience of driving. When you’ve been driving for a while you’ll know on a motorway maybe how to take evasive action, or what gears to go in up certain hills, but when you’ve just passed your test you may not know precisely how to do these things.
Mia: Yeah I agree with Alex. I also feel that when they pass their test they have overconfidence and lack of experience and some do show off but it’s definitely not all of them. And I also feel that young drivers have poor assessments of hazards.
Freya: On the other hand, I think that the care taken while driving can actually deteriorate as you get older and get comfortable with driving style. I know various adults, who for example didn’t have to take a theory test and aren’t particularly comfortable with the highway code. As Alex said there may be more accidents in young drivers but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t bad driving at all ages. I believe there’s been like a refreshers test brought in for older drivers over a certain age and I think that’s a really good thing just to maintain standards across the board.
Jack: I’d say that it’s less about young versus old and more about the kind of mentality. It depends whether you’re with a group or not.
Gavin Newlands: Yeah on the point I think we’ve seen bad driving at all ages and I think that there’s a point that we aren’t acquainted with the highway code. Can I ask Altrincham and can I add another element to the question in that young drivers are more likely to use mobile phones whilst driving so that could obviously be a factor so if they could maybe address that and answer my initial question as well.
Maria: Sorry I missed one of your words there.
Gavin Newlands: The initial question is why do young people in general have more accidents than the rest of the driving population and then I was asking about mobile phone use which is higher in young drivers as well.
Maria: I think that a lot of young people get a bad rep when it comes to driving because they are inexperienced compared to everybody else, so they’re all put under the umbrella of young people. But I think like anybody taking a test at any point, so say you’re learning to drive when you’re like 27 or something if you don’t have the experience then you’re not going to be able to get to the level of someone who has been driving for 10 years or 5 years, so I think it’s put on them because they are the biggest group of new learners.
Gavin Newlands: Nobody else have anything to add. Well thanks very much everyone and good luck when you eventually take your test. I didn’t actually have any formal lessons and I feel sorry for Huw’s daughter as it was my dad that taught me which was fraught with many arguments and what not and it take me a few tests to pass. But no formal lessons for me. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us this morning.
Chair: None of us have been in a car with Gavin so we don’t know whether his parents did a good job or not, but Frankie was saying her parents were teaching her solely so that should give hope. Before we move on to the next chapter, having sort of set the scene about why you drive, what you see the dangers are have we got anything in the chat that we need to look at. No, we’re all speaking rather than typing which is good.
What we want to do next is come onto some of the policy recommendations that we’ve taken down as evidence. So, we’re basically being persuaded by organisations that perhaps more needs to be done, more restrictions on your driving, your ability to drive. We want to go through each of those, but what that would mean is that you wouldn’t be able to do certain things that I, for example, would have been able to do when I was taking my test. We’re really keen to see whether you think that’s a positive, and you would welcome that restriction because it might be better for you safety or whether you think it would be an impact on your liberty and why should you have to put up with something that generations before you didn’t have to. That was a challenge that I put back to one of the witnesses, but she thought that young people would want to do it because it was good for you. When I put that point to my daughter, with an expletive involved, she made it quite clear she wanted to keep going as we are at the moment. We’ll leave the expletives out obviously, but we want to hear your views, your opinions and a bit of passion as well if needed. We’ll take our first policy recommendation and ask Simon Jupp to lead us through it.
Simon Jupp: Good morning again, thank you so much for joining us. The first policy discussion I’d like to have is the suggestion that you should have a mandatory or more extensive period before you can take a test. For example, that could mean you spend at least 6 months learning to drive and have to cover a wider range of road experiences. That’s like driving on rural roads if you live in a city or venture into a city if you live in Central Devon for example. So I want to know what you make of that as an idea, that’s the extensive and more learning in different examples of areas, but also the idea that you could spend 6 months learning as a mandatory period. And I’ll go to Barnsley College first.
Harvey: Well I think for that six months, a lot of people, like for me it will definitely take 6 months or longer, but my dad worked on a farm so he drove on private land so it took him like a couple of weeks and he was straight there. So I don’t think that’s fair on people who have more experience who have to pay for these driving lessons when they don’t need them and they can pass.
Frankie: No one is going to want to learn to drive because that just makes it more expensive. Some people, I know some people could pass in a couple of months because they’re just naturally good at it. You’re just adding extra expense on, for lessons that they don’t need.
Harvey: And imagine how many more driving instructors they’ll need. At the minute, it took me ages to find somebody to drive with and I wanted two lessons a week, but he’s only got time for one lesson a week.
Sophie B: I think it is putting more pressure on young people who, especially going into vocational subjects and stuff and people who are going straight to work who need to drive pretty quickly, they have to cope with the extra cost of extra lessons for a longer period of time. Especially when I for example I’ve driven tractors before so I would imagine I would probably learn to drive quicker than say someone who has never had experience in a car and I don’t see why I should have to pay as much as that person.
Frankie: And to be honest your driving instructor is not going to let you drive until they’re sure that you know how to do it so it’s not like you learn to drive for a week and then you’re going to take your test. The instructor won’t let you drive until they’re certain that you’re able to.
Simon Jupp: Not a lot of love for that idea. I’m very jealous that one of you has driven a tractor. I have never managed that despite being a proud Devonian and that’s obviously something on my bucket list. What about the idea, just going back to the other idea, of for example having to spend time on rural roads if you live in a city and vice versa. Do you think that would help you with your confidence? When I was learning to drive I found it very useful to try different areas, and different types of road, because I drive on tiny country lanes now and my car only has a couple of scratches to prove it.
Frankie: I live in quite a rural area so it’s all winding country roads with giant tractors coming the other way
Simon Jupp: Driven by your friend?
Frankie: Yeah. But I think it would be useful for in your practical test to have like a city driving and then a rural driving section to split the sections up so you know how to drive in all terrains.
Sophie B: I have a neighbour who she talked about it before that she doesn’t drive on motorways because when she learnt to drive there was no motorway section of the test so she’s just never learned because she’s been too nervous to go and try.
Harvey: That’s fine, but then on the other end my dad didn’t learn, and he drives lorries on motorways around the country so you pick it up. You pick up driving in these areas and you learn.
Frankie: But you should learn it first before actually being shoved in. It’s like shoving yourself into a pool, into the deep end when you don’t know how to swim.
Simon Jupp: Yes don’t do that. Interesting a mixed bag of results there. I ask the same questions, that’s about the six months learning to drive and also covering a wide range of road experiences to Altrincham Girls School.
Hedya: For me I think the 6 months, like having a mandatory time period to learn to drive isn’t fair, because obviously people learn to drive at different speeds. But the idea of having a wide range of terrains in driving lessons is a good idea because for me one thing I’ve been anxious for learning to drive is around the fact that when I drive what happens if I come across something that I don’t know how to tackle. I think that would be a good solution for a lot of people who are anxious, knowing that they’re going to cover a lot of things that they could possibly come across. But the time period say is a good idea.
Maria: I think the being able to learn in different situations is such a good idea because for me there’s loads of situations where I’ve had the opportunity to learn how to drive in rural area, but I live in Manchester, so with those opportunities I wouldn’t be learning the skills I would need to drive in the city. There’s no roundabouts, no traffic lights, no motorways and you wouldn’t be equipped, like my friend said, you wouldn’t be equipped to navigate those situations where could you get on a motorway and get off. Would you feel ok? Would you feel safe? Would you feel anxious? But I think that mandatory driving period, it’s kind of unfair because people learn at all different rates and unless there was a like a specific cost, because driving lessons do cost different for everybody, unless there was a set cost constantly then it wouldn’t be sustainable for some people.
Emily: With the mandatory test period I think I started driving in January and the instructor said I was ready for my test around March/April time so that’s only like three months or so. And obviously the test had been delayed because of COVID and I feel having a learner plate on, because I drive in my mum’s car quite a of time. I’ve had to wait quite a long time and I think having this mandatory period isn’t fair because people learn at different speeds.
Simon Jupp: They do indeed. I’m very impressed if you’re ready for your test in two months it took me about a year to be ready. But don’t worry my driving has vastly improved since. I now move to Queen Elizabeth’s School to ask them the same question about the extensive learning period and for example, for you guys in Exeter I would guess as your nearest city.
Jack: I’d say people always enter driving lessons with different levels of experience, working on farms, maybe carting or something like that so people are going to need different time periods to learn to drive. And with the city versus country lanes there’s a very different etiquette on country lanes as there are to driving in the city; you might pull into a layby on the other side of the road just to make it easier for someone else. So learning those sort of unspoken rules is probably a good thing for people to do.
Mia: I feel that if you’re ready to drive there’s no point delaying it for six months because you’ll eventually get bored of it and fed up.
Freya: And also that means more time when you’re not able to go out in a car on your own, unsupervised, which basically makes the fact that you’re learning counter-productive for the rest of that mandatory period if you’re doing it to be autonomous. So I think the mandatory 6 month period is not a good idea. It should be based on when that individual is ready according to that instructor, a person who, the examiner. But about the driving in different situations I think that would be a really good thing. People I know who have learnt to drive have always found there’s a shock if they’ve learnt say in a rural area to then go into a city or vice-versa. So I think three sections; rural, urban and motorway would be a good introduction to, a good thing to introduce to a programme of learning.
Jack: I actually think that’s a really good idea, that 6 month period because say if you go around Crediton, Exeter, Tiverton those sort of areas it’s all country roads and then you go out for your first time on a motorway to Exeter or something like that, you’re going to be extremely unprepared for what’s round the corner. And the speed limit because obviously you can’t go 70 on a country road and if that 6 months will help save your life then I definitely think it’s worth it in the long run that you spend more time practising on different environments and different roads.
Freya: And that would probably stop a lot of the accidents that are caused by inexperience on unfamiliar terrain rather than actual recklessness causing it.
Simon Jupp: I wish many of my constituents in East Devon would remember not to drive at 70 miles per hour on country roads because it’s sometimes absolutely petrifying. Interesting. Thank you very much for that and I’ll go over to Harris Academy.
Chloe: I think the 6 month period would be a bit unreasonable because obviously everyone does learn at different speeds, but learning in different environments is definitely a good idea because you’re more prepared when you do pass, but then it might also decrease the amount of accidents because people are more prepared for different situations.
Sophie W: I think it could just be a little impractical because I’m not sure where you would go for a rural area, but I think it would be a good idea if maybe it was included more when you’re learning to drive.
Simon Jupp: I think you could head up to North Essex because part of North Essex is a little more rural than where you are at the moment but I appreciate it’s not easy especially in the given time of the lesson. Really interesting to hear your views.
Chair: So if you could put your hands up if you think you should be able to put in for your test when you and your instructor think you are ready?
13 hands raised in favour.
Chair: So I thought I picked this up so it was Alex who thinks that maybe a minimum period does make it sense.
Alex: Yes, I think it makes a lot of sense because in those 6 months you could learn some of these unwritten rules of the road which could save people’s lives and I think that’s definitely worth it especially if you’re in your teens. But I do think the six-month rule would only make sense if it was coherent across all the age groups so say someone in their mid-thirties learning to drive would also have to do the 6 month. As long as it’s coherent across all the age groups I think it is a good idea.
Chair: Ok great. Thank you. It’s always good to have a different view as well, it’s important for us, albeit you are massively outvoted on this one. Alternative settings, as someone very well described it, so learning on both rural and urban settings, if you think that’s a good idea hands up:
13 hands raised in favour.
Chair: Ok. Or who think actually no it’s about the setting I live in and drive so if I’m in inner London I don’t need to learn to drive on a rural road.
1 hand raised
Chair: Harvey you know how it feels to be outvoted as well. Let’s move onto the next question we have for you and I’m going to ask Ruth Cadbury to take this one.
Ruth Cadbury: So we’ve talked about minimum learning period and what a lot of countries, and a lot of states in some countries, do is have a graduated driving license process where you don’t get your full license until you’ve been driving for a certain period, and actually in all the examples we’ve had you can actually get your initial driving license at 16 but then take 6 months or a year before you can get your full license and during that period there’s various restrictions that apply in different countries but limit your activities as a newly qualified driver or as a young driver. The question I want to ask, and we’ve got a couple of other questions which are around these restrictions, in states where there are there restrictions several of them have a blood alcohol limit of 0. So although there’s a minimal alcohol limit for fully qualified drivers, young and newly qualified drivers can have no blood alcohol, not drink at all. I just wondered how you thought about both the principle of a GDL and the idea of not being able to drive with any alcohol in your system at all. That might apply particularly as somebody mentioned earlier as having a license because you need to drive for work. I’ll start with Harris Academy
Sophie W: I think the idea of driving with no alcohol in your system is a good idea especially because a lot of people will drive if they’ve had alcohol like if it’s the next morning then you’ll still have alcohol in your system even if it’s below the legal limit.
Chloe: I personally would never drive with any alcohol in my system, but a partial license I’m not sure because some people might be working in apprentices and it might restrict them.
Ruth Cadbury: So, Queen Elizabeth’s what do you think about the GDL idea and one restriction and one restriction being no alcohol
Jack: I think the graduated driving license is probably a good idea because you can progress, and it allows you to gain the experience you’d need with possibly the 6 month driving license and preparation period whilst still having the freedom to drive. And I think no alcohol in your system is a really good ideas as any alcohol in your system is going to impair you to some extent.
Freya: I would agree with that. I would say there’s nothing wrong with having a graduated driving license in pretty much all situations it it’s not restricting your ability to get around then that should be alright. And as for the blood alcohol, I mean yeah I’d say overall it’s a good idea. I certainly know that when I drive I wouldn’t drive having drunk any alcohol although I know some people, like for example people who alcohol has a very minimal effect on if they want to have one glass of wine or one pint several hours before they drive. It’s a hard one. I’d say overall it’s probably safer to say none, but I do know people who wouldn’t be terribly happy with that.
Mia: I think younger drivers they shouldn’t be able to have any alcohol in their system. I think it’s unsafe and I definitely agree with the graduated drivers license. I think that’s a really good idea.
Alex: I couldn’t agree more with the graduated driving license. I think they’d be really helpful for everybody on the road and it would definitely benefit people but I don’t agree with the blood alcohol limit because some people could drink hours in advance so much so that they would feel not effects from it but they still wouldn’t be allowed to drive and say if they got pulled over and breathalysed and they did have some alcohol but they weren’t impaired at all and their driving was perfect it seems a bit wrong to pull them over and convict them of something, and they may not have done anything wrong.
Ruth Cadbury: So if we go over to Altrincham.
Marie: I think the gradual licenses would be a good idea, but I feel as though the most likely way to influence it would be to keep it at 17. Because to make people safer there’s no in point in bringing the age forward because you’re still going to get some people that break the rules. Obviously, the alcohol limit should be zero because it’s illegal anyway and it’s for younger drivers, and any driver because it’s obviously a distraction. But if you’re going to do a half license I think it would be beneficial to keep it at 17 and then be able to get the full license at 18 because you’re not going to get any safer from limiting the amount of driving you can do and bringing the age forward, because your capabilities are still less when you’re younger even if you’re allowed to do less.
Victoria: I think the alcohol thing, I don’t know if you’d get, people of all ages are going to break the rules so if you make it 0 and not let a lower limit you’re still going to get people that will ignore that and that will then cause more disruption maybe.
Ruth Cadbury: (Barnsley return after losing connection) So Barnsley a lot of states have a graduated drivers license principle where you pass your test initially, and then either for a certain level of time 6 months or 12 months, or until you hit another age, another year or two older you will have more restrictions than someone who has a full driving license. Do you agree with that principle and secondly one of those restrictions that several of the states is to be driving with no alcohol in your blood, so basically no drinking at all when you’re driving and just wondered what you think of either or none of those principles.
Frankie: I quite like the American system where it’s part of the curriculum and then as their experience their restrictions drop off. And probably rather controversially I don’t think anyone should be driving with blood alcohol above 0 at all. Alcohol can affect people in different ways, you could have half a pint of beer and still be fairly intoxicated even though your blood alcohol might not be that high so even non learners who’ve been driving for years I don’t think they should even be driving with any alcohol in their system.
Harvey: Well I disagree about all adults as soon as you’ve passed that is fine for a little bit for no alcohol but I do think that as you get older you might be able to cope with your alcohol better or you’ll probably be a better driver as well. So is the effect on is it the alcohol or is that you’re not as good a driver as you are when you’re older. And I think about the restrictions I think that’s fine, I think especially when you’re driving at 17, I know you’re not an adult until 18 but you don’t have any responsibilities until you leave uni I think that’s fine.
Ruth Cadbury: Thank you very much to everybody and I’ll hand back over to the Chair because I think we’ve got some other questions around the restrictions of the graduated drivers license.
Chair: Thanks Ruth. I should have made clear all the bullet points that we’re going through so the minimum learning period, alcohol in blood and we’ll go onto some more are all part of the graduated driver license menu of choices. So I’m just going to ask you to put your hand up and again I should just mention that we took evidence that suggested that the part of the brain that you rely on when driving doesn’t finally develop until the age of 25 and so that’s why some of these parts come in albeit in females it apparently develops faster than it does in men but I’ll leave you to debate that one.
So, we’ll do hands up again before we move on. I’m going to ask whether you think it’s right that you as a young person, or a novice driver for a period should be unable to have any alcohol in your system when driving. Who think that’s a good thing?
13 hands raised.
Chair: And who doesn’t think that’s the right approach?
1 hand raised.
Chair: And also who thinks it should be the same (zero) regardless of how much experience you have in terms of driving.
9 hands raised.
Chair: We’re now going to move on to restrictions on passenger numbers, if there should be any at all, Karl McCartney.
Karl McCartney: I’m going to ask you a particular question and I’m just going to remind you of what the Chair was telling you. We’ve been given lots of evidence telling us that we should curb your freedom, if you like, and I’m certainly as a Conservative someone who believes in liberty so the question I’ve got to ask you is do you think that once you’ve passed your test nobody else under the age of 21 should be allowed in the car with you. That’s the first question I’m going to ask you all around liability and insurance. And I grew up in Cheshire so Altrincham is the first school I’m going to pick. Do you think that once you’ve passed your test you should be limited to not having any passengers with you under the age of 21?
Maria: I feel like having that restriction would limit people so say if you have a car because it’s a necessity and you need to drive people around it would limit you. So if you’ve got a family that you are tasked with ferrying around then that could become an issue because there’s no point in you actually having that car, or paying the insurance, or having that expense if you cannot use it properly. But I think that precaution should be taken but I think it should be for a certain period rather than just as a rule that under a certain age you can’t have certain passengers under x age.
Karl McCartney: Thank you for that and I didn’t want to put words in your mouth but my eldest son passed his test last year and then took his younger brother to work every day because although I represent Lincoln which is an urban city I live in rural Lincolnshire and I presume that for some of you that might be the same case that once you pass the test is that you’ll either give people lifts to school or access the world of work if you work part time. But if I move now to Essex, same question to you, should you be able to have people under 21 as passengers once you’ve passed your test.
Sophie W: I think it could limit quite a few people. Some people have more of an active role in their family life so taking siblings places or even if they’re young carers it might hinder them.
Chloe: Yeah I agree. I think that it could cause a lot more problems than solutions because it might make life quite difficult for people that need to help their families.
Karl McCartney: And over to Devon
Jack: I’d argue that if you’re taking an environmental standpoint then if you’re saying you can’t have people under say 21 then a lot of people of our age are going to be under 21, and you’re not going to want to be taking 3 or 4 cars somewhere if you’re going out for the day.
Freya: Yeah I would strongly disagree with the restriction on passengers. Also, what if your passengers are for examples your parent who are going to give you some extra tips for driving on the motorway or something like that it can actually be useful to have more experienced drivers in the car with you when you pass your test. Also, again when ferrying members of the family around can be a strong motivation for learning to drive to then restrict that for a period after having learnt would be very frustrating I think. Also, I know one family where one of my friends learnt to drive because her dad was actually a very dangerous driver and she didn’t feel safe in the car with him and wanted to be able to take her younger sister to school and her mum who couldn’t drive so yeah that was a big motivation and I think in lots of situations that would be a hinderance. And if you’re qualified you’re qualified and we should have faith that the instructors would allow, would enter people for their tests when they’re ready to ferry passengers responsibly.
Mia: I feel that 21 is a very excessive age and I think that it should maybe be lowered to 17 so then the passengers your taking can also drive. I’ve got a sister who’s 9 years younger than me if I was to take her in the car and something happened I would liable for whatever happened, and I don’t think children should be able to take lifts with newly learnt drivers.
Alex: Yeah I couldn’t agree more with all the other points made. I think being able to have passengers in your car is definitely a good idea. From an environmental standpoint it allows you to carshare so there are less cars on the road, it can ease congestions especially in cities being able to put more people in a car and also from a freedom standpoint it’s sort of your liberty of passing your test and buying a car that you can take passengers with you.
Karl McCartney: Thank you for those points and lastly but not least Barnsley what do you think?
Sophie B: I think that especially given that so many reasons why people would need and want to take passengers that people would just break the rules even if you put them in place. And I think that it would be encouraged by certain adults and stuff that they do that, especially if they’re ferrying round younger siblings and stuff like that.
Harvey: Well earlier I made the point that one of the reasons why people crash is to impress their friends, or they’re going fast to impress their friends, but I still think this is nonsense. Because one of the reasons why my parents are paying for me to pass my test is so I can take my sister to work and maybe pick my cousins up from schools, and do odd jobs like that which they would have to come home early from work to do or something like that. And that for me is one of the main reasons why they’re paying for me to pass.
Frankie: One of the reasons I wanted to learn to drive is because I look after my younger neighbours, because their parents work pretty much early morning to late night, and I’m hoping that I can drive their daughter to school and back and she’s 15. And I agree that people would just break the rules anyway and I think the drivers just need to use common sense really. If you know a friend is rowdy then probably don’t invite them in the car if you’re not comfortable with that. Just general common sense.
Karl McCartney: Thank you for that. I do have a couple of other questions but I think before that the Chair might want to have a show of hands on that particular question, which I have to say we were given to ask you, and it’s not something that I believe in either. As I said I’m a libertarian and I couldn’t wait to drive when I was 17 so I could drive to my part time job instead of taking lifts from other people.
Chair: Thanks Karl. So the research we took from Brake found that 16-17 year old drivers are four times more likely to die in a crash when carrying young passengers than when driving alone. But 62% are less likely when carrying older adult passengers. And Karl’s just put the libertarian point in there for you as well. So two good arguments you’re hearing there. On that basis do you favour restrictions on having other young people in the car with you, say under 21. All those who would exclude having young people when you have passed you test put your hand up:
No hands raised
Chair: All those who don’t agree put your hand up
14 hands up
Chair: I think that’s really important, because sometimes we can lead with our evidence but I deliberately threw in right these are the risks if you do that and you’ve decided that you want to go ahead and make that decision yourself and take that risk. So I think that was fairly put.
Karl McCartney: Thanks Huw. One of the things I wanted to talk about was affordability and I know when I was learning to drive it was £10 an hour and that’s the first question I wanted to put to you all, it can be quickfire so the hourly rates for learning to drive. My second question is going to be on insurance and one of my hobby horses for all this time I’ve been elected is that I think that young people pay far too much to be insured to drive cars and I think the industry takes the mickey out of you all. The first question, coming to Barnsley is how much you pay?
Harvey: It’s £25 per hour but I know the person who does it, so I get it for £20
Frankie: When I’ve looked at lessons they’ve been around £30-£50 but my private lessons all I have to do is pay insurance and that’s around £8 for two hours.
Karl McCartney: Where they two hour lessons at £30 or one hour?
Karl McCartney:And Essex
Chloe: I pay £55 for two hours
Sophie W: I pay £24 for one hour
Karl McCartney: I’m in the wrong job. Going to Altrincham
Marie: I pay £25 for one hour
Victoria: I pay £22 an hour
Emily: I pay £125 for five hours
Helena: I pay £25 for one hour
Karl McCartney: And Devon
Jack: £30 an hour
Freya: That’s what my sister paid
Jack: Most of my lessons are through my dad it’s only a few here and there where I pick up on things he might have missed so it’s not a huge expense.
Karl McCartney: Huw did you have a question
Chair: No I was just horrified at £55 for two hours. Is that in Thurrock?
Karl McCartney: It is a lesson in a Bentley Huw. I’m just going to ask about insurance. Altrincham are you aware about how much it is to be insured per year and I know that historically for young ladies it’s been cheaper than young men to be insured at 17 but do you know roughly how much the costs are.
Victoria: I don’t know numbers, but I know that if it’s just a young person driving a car it is more expensive than if they’re sharing with their parents. My brother was insured on my parents’ car and that was cheaper than insuring him on his own.
Karl McCartney: Certainly if you’re a named driver on your parent’s car it is a lot cheaper. Devon are you aware how much it is to be insured?
Jack: On most major insurance companies for like a Polo or something like that it will be £1200 a year.
Mia: My parents are going to put me on their insurance so it’s cheaper.
Karl McCartney: And Barnsley?
Harvey: I just know it’s horrific. Horrendous.
Frankie: I don’t pay by the year I pay by the hour and it’s about £7-£8 for two hours depending of the vehicle.
Karl McCartney: There are companies that do that and it’s really useful particularly when sharing a car. And Essex?
Sophie W: We’ve looked and it’s around £1000 around there for your first year.
Karl McCartney: Thank you so much for being helpful and for putting up arguments against the proposals who have put forward by people who think your freedom should be impinged.
Chair: Thanks Karl. Robert Largan, and sorry Robert I should have come to you earlier, has got another restriction for you to consider.
Robert Largan: Morning everyone. This is another one of the proposed restrictions, to stress this isn’t my restriction, their talking on whether there should be restrictions on young drivers driving at night. For example, in California after 11pm a young driver has to have someone over the age of 25 in the car as well. It will be interesting to know your thoughts on this suggestion. We’ll start with Altrincham as it’s one of my favourite places to visit.
Hedya: It’s not a bad idea, but I’d say them being over 25 is a bit difficult because it should be someone who has more experienced than you not necessarily older. Like someone who has been driving longer than you but might be in the same age range just so that means you’re still able to drive at night if you needed to.
Marie: Yeah because over 25 could be someone that doesn’t drive. So say if you’ve got your 80 year old gran with you she isn’t necessarily qualified to drive and she won’t make you any safer in the car but if that was the restriction then that would be allowed, whereas having someone who is 20 and has three years driving experience more than you wouldn’t be allowed I think the ages would be quite difficult to navigate around.
Emily: I think a lot of people our age will have jobs and sometimes we finish quite late. I know at my job we finish at around 10:30/11:00 at night so it would be a lot easier if I would be able to drive home at that point instead of having a restriction and not having someone to come out and get me.
Robert Largan: Good point. I have a lot of shift workers, young people in my constituency who works in quarries and if they couldn’t drive home they couldn’t work so that’s a really good point. Barnsley, considering that I border Barnsley in my constituency I’ll go to you next what are your thoughts.
Harvey: Well when it’s dark obviously and it’s night there is a risk but the roads are a lot quieter than they are in the daytime so I do think there is sort of that parallel where there’s still more risk but not as much risk as people think.
Frankie: If you don’t learn to drive in the dark you’re not going to learn to drive in the dark. You’re not going to get that experience if you’re not allowed to do it and also I don’t, again I don’t think it’s going to stop anyone from doing it anyway. And also night is relative depending on the season when it gets dark. So let’s say your shift at work usually finishes at 5, that’s fine in the summer but then by winter it’s night time by 5 o clock.
Sophie B: I think, especially 11 o clock, I’d consider that quite early for a cut off point especially since I know a lot of people who work until 11 o clock now as 16 year olds. So I think if there was going to be a cut off at all it would have to be significantly later like 1 or 2 am.
Robert Largan: Good points. Let’s got to Devon.
Jack: So, we’re in full time education so the social aspect which is often the motivator for driving you are going to be working and driving after school so that time period is when we have free time. We’re often going to be doing school work till 10/11 o clock at night anyway so if we actually want to see people it’s going to be after that.
Freya: I also think one thing we should have really learnt from COVID is that enforcing a set time curfew is extremely difficult and like actually getting someone to stick to that time keeping, and then enforcing it, like what if you’re five minutes out, or if you’re half an hour out.? And also, yet again with the job thing I used to work in a restaurant and I would get off ay midnight. I know people that work later than that and even if you live really close to your workplace it’s not always safe to be walking in the dark, it’s a lot safer, well I always had a lift but that was an inconvenience for the people who gave me that lift and yeah I think if you have a car you want to be able to drive it whenever you need to drive it. And what if there’s some sort of very important thing that happens like some sort of emergency that requires you to take someone in to A&E for example in the middle of night, well I’d guess that they be a passenger, but that goes back to the 80 year old passenger so I think it would be a bit of an imposition.
Mia: I think it’s a good idea, however I do think it really does depend on the person. Personally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable being alone at 11 o clock at night driving however it is more safe than public transport late at night.
Alex: Yeah I don’t think it’s a good idea because although you could have a passenger beyond 11 o clock that passenger could be anybody. They could even be encouraging you to drive more recklessly despite their age.
Robert Largan: And Essex?
Sophie W: I agree with everyone else who said it would be quite impractical with various factors including people who work later or if there were difficult circumstances where you had to get someone to hospital.
Chloe: I agree I think it would cause a lot of problems and a lot of inconvenience for people and I think most people would end up ignoring it and then cause more issues.
Robert Largan: Good point everyone and some really good thoughts. Perhaps we can have a show of hands then. So hands up in favour of restrictions on who can drive at night.
1 hand raised
Robert Largan: And hands up against restrictions for driving at night
13 hands raised
Robert Largan: Pretty comprehensive so thanks very much everyone. Back to you Chair.
Chair: Thanks Robert. We’re getting towards the close of time we’ve got one more though, and then I might take a show of hands of one other issue. Chris Loder
Chris Loder: Good morning everybody I’m the Member for West Dorset. I was particularly interested to hear a little bit earlier on about some of you learning to drive on tractors. I also learnt to drive on a tractor, maybe a little bit younger than I ought to have been. But there we are and if you can drive a tractor you can drive anything. I’d just like to ask you about black boxes. Just in case you’re not sure what a black box is this is a monitoring device that take, for examples on our trains today every train on a network has a black box fitted to it where it records attributes of the train such as it’s speed, various instruments, maybe in this case an indicator that’s operated any maybe other things so in the event of an accident that black box can be reviewed and it can be identified maybe why the accident happened. And of course, there are also occasions where that black box could be reviewed in other ways maybe not for an accident so I am keen to get your views as to whether you think having a black box fitted to cars is a good thing. Could I start with Barnsley first?
Harvey: Ok it doesn’t really effect you in your driving when you can drive and it’s a way for insurance companies to be able to be able to look at the risk and how much money they have to charge and I think that is probably the best thing we’ve heard so far.
Frankie: I agree that it’s a relatively good idea especially if it comes with rewards so if you like drive well for a month then you get something off your insurance. It would be like an incentive to drive better with a black box
Sophie B: It would allow young drivers who are acting responsibly to not have the same kind of restrictions and stuff put on them as people who are not being so responsible and causing accidents.
Chris Loder: And can I ask, clearly that’s a benefit of being able to give your driving data to an insurance company but let’s just say for example you were late for something and you were driving slightly differently compared to how you might normally drive do you think it’s good that insurance companies ,or indeed the police, or others could get that black box data at some time in the future and look back and say actually you’ve gone over the speed limit there we’re going to prosecute you.
Harvey: Yeah because if you’ve broken the law or gone too fast you have done that. Just try not to be late set off earlier.
Sophie B: It’s better to be late than to be dead.
Chris Loder: It’s better to be on time rather than late I suppose isn’t it. Especially if you work for the trains. Can I go to Altrincham next and get your views please?
Victoria: They are good like they were saying before like lowering insurance and things but they’re quite, they effect everyone who drives the car so if you share the car everyone is being affected by that black box and not just a singular driver.
Chris Loder: Sorry I couldn’t really hear what you were saying there. Do you support black boxes?
Victoria: I think in certain situations. I think they’re good for singular cars, if one person drives that car but probably not the best if it’s a shared car.
Chris Loder: Let’s just say it’s a singular car, it’s your car and there was a proposal for a black box would you want a black box fitted on your car?
Victoria: If it would lower your insurance rates, because those rates are so expensive it’s good for helping that and things.
Hedya: I think it’s also good for data analysis and it would help you see where a lot of accidents are from rather than just generalising it and suggesting that it might be due to one factor when in reality the black box might state something else. So, I think having it could also help with future policy making and helping drivers be more safe because you know what the majority of accidents are caused by.
Chris Loder: Could we go to Harris Academy in Chafford Hundred. I used to live in Upminster once upon a time just up the road from you.
Sophie W: Well I think it’s a good idea as I think it encourages people to drive safely and I’m sure it can pick up on areas where people aren’t driving safely as well.
Chloe: I really don’t see any sort of issue with it, it will lower insurance rates and it does keep you in check.
Chris Loder: And just finally can I go to Queen Elizabeth school please?
Jack: I’d agreed with the black box if it coincided with the graduated driving license period, during that kind of 6 months to a year but after that I would say that its…if I had to have a black box as a teenager and that was enforced then everyone else should have to have them. And the economic aspect I think it’s kind of a way for insurance companies to increase their premium by offering something slightly more proscriptive at a lower cost so kind of facilitate a much higher insurance premium if someone was to disagree with the black box and not want one and have to pay much more.
Freya: I personally think, it seems not to be the popular view, but I personally think it’s a very bad idea. I’m personally against black boxes. Primarily I think it’s an infringement of liberty and also privacy. It could well be construed as surveillance from the state by a lot of people. Also, what if the technology goes wrong, what if there’s some kind of fault with the black box. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m aware that there is the potential for these things to go wrong which would turn up false date and then be very hard to disprove and create a great deal of hassle. And also as you said one off occasions, I know lots of people who will go up to 70 in a 60 zone for example, or if you are really driving in a hurry if there’s no one else on the road then it can be a case of breaking those rules when it’s not going to cause any harm at all. So yes I’m against it.
Mia: I think black boxes are a good idea because it would provide a better understanding of road accidents and I think they should be installed especially for young drivers, not necessarily older drivers. It also creates a fear of speeding so because the black box is there they would be way of speeding. And I also feel that all motorbikes should have black boxes as they are very dangerous and definitely go past the speed limit.
Chris Loder: So do you think tractors should have black boxes as well?
Mia: Tractors don’t go very fast anyway.
Freya: They’re not really a danger to all road users.
Chris Loder: It was a slightly flippant question however, with a provisional license of course today you can learn to drive a tractor before you learn to drive a car, as I did I think the license says you can learn to drive a tractor at 16. But in the event of those who have access to a tractor do you think they should have a black box as well.
Mia: I think it should be optional
Alex: I don’t think so as tractors spend most of their time on private land so having a black box how would you discern it’s on private land or on the roads.
Chair: I’m just conscious of time as we’re 7 minutes over and I know that the schools have got to go. Has that covered the bit about telematics that you wanted to cover? Ok great. Again, we’ll do the hands up so can I ask you if you would support a compulsory telematics, maybe for the first year of your driving. So all those who would support it being compulsory please put your hand up?
11 hands raised
And those that would not
3 hands raised
Great ok. Thank you. I’m just going to ask you another couple of questions we won’t debate them as we’re over time but I wanted to ask you a couple of other votes. So being required to display a P Plate. This is optional at the moment, so say for an example for one year after your test is completed which I think is the case in Northern Ireland. So compulsory P plates who thinks that’s a good idea?
4 hands raised
Who thinks it should be optional.
10 hands raised
Great ok thanks. The other one is at the moment you can learn to drive on the roads at 17 and there was a suggestion that it be lowered to 16. So, lowering starting to 16 who thinks that is a good idea?
6 hands raised
And who thinks 17 is the right age?
8 hands raised
Anyone think actually you should raise it to say 18?
No hands raised
We’ve taken 10 minutes more time than we said we would and we hope that hasn’t impacted your timetable too much. I think what’s been really fascinating for us is getting your direct views and your opinions to really challenge some of the evidence we’ve been given. As I think one or two of us have mentioned we challenged ‘would young people agree with that?’ and we’re told ‘yes we believe so’ but you’ve given us different views. And you’ve not been afraid to give us a lone view as well so I thought that was absolutely superb. And I can tell you from our own Watsapp group, you’ve started a lot of debate between us in terms of our view, but what’s unanimous and welcome and appreciated your own opinions have been. You’ve been absolutely superb and you really sort of emboldened us and enlightened us in terms of our own findings as well. What we’ll do next, you’re our sort of second session, as we mentioned we heard from road campaigners and we’re now hearing from you as directly relevant younger drivers, or drivers to be. We’re going to hear from the insurance industry, you may feel that they charge you too much, and other experts on driving. And then we’re going to hear from a Government Minister because we obviously want to put all these points, and we’ll include your points directly to the minister to think about. And then we will write our report, that we’ll all agree on a unanimous basis, and then that will make recommendations for change- or it might actually make recommendations that there’s no change required. I hope you’ll follow us all the way through and you can view what we do and see our transcripts and we’ll make sure that you get sent the links so that you can tune in and I also hope that you feel that you’ve been part of Parliament, ultimately this is about making change that’s good for you so we hope that you’ve enjoyed the process. I hope you continue to keep involved in politics and parliament and watch what we do. So unless any other members have anything else to say.
Karl McCartney: A big thanks from me
Ruth Cadbury: All I wanted to say if anyone else has anything further to say, or anything that comes to their mind please get in touch and we’ll incorporate it in what’s said today.
Chair: Thanks to you all and best of luck not just with your driving but with all your future studies as well.
Results of the ‘hands up’ questions that were asked by the Members of the Transport Committee during the engagement session.
Who is learning to drive?
Those who will get own car
Impact of COVID 19 and related safety measures
More likely to use a car
Less likely to use a car
No difference on car use
Able to take test when you feel your ready
Mandatory 6 month learning period
Lessons include driving in alternative settings
0 Alcohol limit
Should be for all age groups
Restrictions on passengers in cars
Restrictions on driving at night
Compulsory P Plates
Age of learning to drive