4. Types of intervention considered

4. Types of intervention considered

4.1 Introduction

Participants in the debate were asked to provide feedback on six generic categories of road safety interventions broadly based around four of the five ‘E’s which help to deliver Scotland’s Road Safety Framework for 2020 (Engineering, Enforcement, Education and Encouragement):

  • A – Education and training for younger children and pre-drivers (Education)
  • B – Education, training and testing for learner and novice drivers (Education)
  • C – Graduated driver licensing and licence restrictions (Enforcement)
  • D – Enforcement and restorative justice (Enforcement)
  • E – Use of technology (Engineering), and
  • F – Encouragement and leadership, including incentives and working with the private sector (Encouragement).

The fifth E – Evaluation – is considered as an underpinning discipline for all interventions (see Appendix E).

These categories were used to structure the topic guides for the semi-structure interviews and the focus groups, and to structure the questions for the general stakeholder engagement and the online survey.

These categories are also used in the rest of this report to structure the feedback from the debate (Chapter 5), the interventions for promoting young driver safety (Chapter 6), and the discussion of intervention types and recommendations (Chapter 7).

The following sections describe each of these intervention types highlighting the types of measures and approaches participants were asked about.

4.2 Intervention Type A – Education and training for younger children and pre-drivers

A range of education and training interventions are offered by Road Safety Scotland, most Scottish Councils, the police, fire and rescue and other road safety partners, aimed at younger school children (aged 10 to 15 years) and pre-drivers (aged 16 to 17 years)9. Some are designed as a self-contained single delivery and some are designed to be delivered over a number of weeks. Some are focused solely on road user behaviour and others are part of a more general program. Some are used to convey messages about the scale of the risk to young persons and the consequences of certain behaviour; and some cover practical matters such as buying a car, insurance, in car activities, and practicing the theory part of the driving test.

Other initiatives seek to provide information about risks and consequences to a wider audience through advertisements on television and cinema and use of other media. The approaches used to get road safety messages across to young people have expanded in recent years, with greater use being made of social networking websites, mobile phone downloads, blogging sites, You Tube, and so on.

4.3 Intervention Type B – Education, training and testing for learner and novice drivers

The current approach to driver training and testing across the UK requires drivers to pass both a theory and practical test. The theory test is made up of a multiple choice part which tests individuals’ knowledge of the Highway Code and driving theory; and a video-based hazard perception part. The practical test examines an individual’s ability to drive safely in different road and traffic conditions, their ability to demonstrate knowledge of the Highway Code through their driving, their ability to perform specific driving manoeuvres; and, since October 2010, their ability to drive safely while making route decisions independently.

Learners are encouraged to use the DSA Approved Log Book, to record their progress during training. However, this is not a mandatory requirement and use of the Log Book is believed to be low. There is no minimal period of training required, and at present limited coverage of public responsibilities (in terms of behaviour and attitudes on the road) within the current driver training and testing approach.

Following the UK Learning to Drive Consultation in 2008, the DSA has developed a Competency Framework to be used as a basis for driver training and assessment, and is implementing a range of improvements to the current testing regime through the Learning to Drive Programme (see Appendix A).

4.4 Intervention Type C – Graduated driver licensing and licence restrictions

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) allows new drivers to build up their driving skills and experience gradually. Different stages of licensing are intended to reflect increased levels of driver competence.

A GDL scheme might involve:

  • introducing minimum age requirements for different stages of licensing; or
  • requiring drivers to hold a provisional licence for a minimum period, undergo a minimal period of driver training or practice and/or demonstrate a minimal period of safe driving (without any driving offences) before being entitled to apply or take a test for the next tier of licensing.

In addition, various restrictions might be placed on new drivers relating to, for example:

  • maximum driving speed or maximum engine size/power
  • use of vehicles with manual gearboxes
  • carrying passengers (aged 17 to 25 years, or in general)
  • driving at night (without supervision, or in general), and/or
  • blood alcohol levels (e.g. zero tolerance for young and inexperienced drivers).

Some GDL schemes require novice drivers to carry a ‘P’, ‘N’ or ‘R’ Plate to inform others that the driver of the vehicle is newly qualified, for a fixed period.

The UK already has aspects of GDL in that supervision is required; motorway driving is prohibited until a learner driver has passed a practical test; and a probationary period is imposed for the first two years post-test, during which time a new driver will be subject to immediate revocation of their licence should they reach 6 or more penalty points (as opposed to 12 points for all other drivers).

More extensive GDL is widely used in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, where young people can generally start to learn to drive from the age of 15 or 16 (see Box 4.1).

4.5 Intervention Type D – Enforcement and restorative justice

Scottish police forces carry out routine enforcement activities and targeted enforcement campaigns to raise public awareness of specific issues, such as drink-driving and driving on rural roads.

This Scottish Safety Camera Programme is an initiative that is designed to influence driver behaviour, particularly by the targeted enforcement of speed limits. The Programme is operated by eight Safety Camera Partnerships that cover all of mainland Scotland10.

Box 4.1 – GDL examples11

In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States novice drivers are often required to hold a ‘learners licence’ for a minimum period, typically six months. In some schemes (e.g. New Zealand), the minimum period is reduced if learners complete a recognised driver training course. A number of the GDL systems in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States involve placing restrictions on the number of passengers (often below the age of 20 or 21) which young novice drivers may carry, and restrictions on night time driving. The Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales both restrict young drivers’ access to high performance cars.

Other European countries have introduced partial GDL systems. For, example, Northern Ireland has operated a form of graduated licensing since 1968, requiring newly-qualified drivers to carry an ‘R’ (Restricted) plate for one year, and limiting them to a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour (see Appendix A).

There are several international examples of lower alcohol limits for learner drivers. All of the Canadian provinces enforce zero tolerance for learner and intermediate (probationary) drivers. This alcohol restriction is not lifted upon gaining a full licence, but upon a minimum age being reached. All five of the Australian states which operate a ‘three tier’ licensing system enforce zero tolerance during the ‘learners’ and ‘intermediate’ stage. The remaining three Australian states enforce a reduced alcohol limit of 0.2g/l until a learner has passed their test. The only European example of reduced alcohol limits for learners is in Austria, which operates with a reduced limit of 0.1 g/l during the learner stage.

The use of ‘restorative justice’, in the form of driver awareness courses, has become increasingly popular amongst police forces in England in recent years, where the police have the discretion to utilise awareness courses rather than issue a Penalty Charge Notice for certain offences. Most schemes are targeted at offenders of all ages, although interventions could specifically be aimed at young drivers. Driver awareness courses are not available in Scotland at present; however Procurators Fiscal have the option of ‘referral to a support service such as social work or psychiatry’. A driver awareness course could be considered to be a support service for drivers who are more likely to be classified as risk takers on the roads.

The DVLA and insurance companies also have an enforcement role in ensuring vehicles/drivers on the road are properly registered, taxed, adequately maintained and insured. A report commissioned by the UK Department for Transport (Greenaway, 2004) notes that the likelihood of uninsured drivers being involved in a road traffic accident is almost certainly higher than average, citing the evidence from New Zealand (Blows et al., 2003). The introduction of Continuous Insurance Enforcement by the DfT in April 2011 will replace previous limitations whereby a prosecution could only take place if an uninsured motorist was caught at the wheel of a car. From April 2011, the DVLA will legally be able to compare insurance and DVLA databases to identify drivers without insurance. Those identified will initially receive a warning letter and ultimately a fine. The changes will apply to Scotland, Wales and England. As this intervention is already in motion, it is not considered further within this report.

4.6 Intervention Type E – Use of technology

Technologies designed to help to regulate driving or encourage better driving include:

  • event (crash) data recorders which record information relating to vehicle crashes or accidents for analysis after the event (see Appendix A)
  • continuous data recorders enabling employers and parents/carers to download information on fuel consumption, location and harsh braking/acceleration
  • voluntary or mandatory use of Intelligent Speed Adaptation technology to limit speeds to the prevailing speed limit (see Appendix A), and
  • ‘alcolock’ technology to immobilise a vehicle if the driver’s blood alcohol level is above the legal limit (see Appendix A).

Use or ‘take-up’ of these technologies amongst young drivers could be increased:

  • through a court order, requiring use of any of the above technology as part of a sentence following a serious offence such as excessive speeding or drink driving
  • as an incentive for reducing the duration of any restrictions as part of a graduated licensing scheme, or
  • as an incentive for obtaining real car insurance savings or rebates.

There are also technologies that make cars safer including air bags, adaptive cruise control, anti-lock braking systems, headway detectors, and lane-changing alerts that typically target passive, but not active safety.

4.7 Intervention Type F – Encouragement and leadership, including incentives and working with the private sector

While the above intervention types are all designed to encourage safe driving behaviour, there are specific ways in which the Scottish Government, the insurance industry, private sector employers, and parents and carers can ‘encourage’ young drivers to participate in interventions and show ‘leadership’, by for example, demonstrating best practice. In particular there are a range of incentives which can be offered to provide the ‘carrot’ necessary to support various ‘stick’ approaches described above.

The Scottish Government can provide leadership on young driver road safety issues by ensuring public funds are spent appropriately and deliver good value for money. This could be done by demonstrating good practice in terms of its own approach to young employees and encouraging good practice in other organisations it works with or takes tenders from.

It can encourage take-up of additional education and training by promoting and subsidising courses, offering offenders the opportunity to undertake additional training or education as an alternative to receiving a fine or penalty points, and offering other financial incentives.

It can also work directly with the insurance industry and private sector employers to encourage (or incentivise) good road safety practices, and can raise awareness about the important role that parents and carers can play in encouraging safe driving amongst young people.

Insurers, employers and parents can also play their own role in encouraging safe driving.

Other encouragement and leadership interventions look beyond the immediate road safety sphere and include messages to reduce driving occurrences and encourage greater public transport use, and to encourage eco-driving. A wider, co-ordinated transport policy can also have road safety benefits by encouraging use of more sustainable (and safer) travel modes.