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Major study into safety of young drivers at work

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has launched a major research study aimed at helping young drivers to stay safe when they are on the road as part of their job.

RoSPA's Young Drivers at Work project is seeking the views of managers who employ 17-24-year-old drivers. It will lead to a better understanding of the safety issues involved in these employees getting behind the wheel for tasks such as making deliveries, going to meetings or travelling between sites.

A questionnaire for employers can be accessed at www.rospa.com/roadsafety/youngdriversatwork/ until December.

Young drivers and work-related driving are two of today's biggest road safety challenges. Figures show that young motorists are more at risk of being killed or injured on the roads than more experienced drivers. It is also estimated that one in three crashes involves a vehicle being driven for work. This means that every week about 200 deaths and serious injuries on Britain's roads involve someone at work.

As part of RoSPA's project, employers are being asked to compare the driving styles of young and more experienced drivers, including how they assess risks, route planning, fuel-efficiency and awareness of the danger of fatigue.

They are also being questioned about: any policies they have in place, such as a minimum age limit for drivers; how well the present system of learner driver training and testing prepares people to drive for work; and whether post-test driver training would be useful in the workplace.

The views of young drivers themselves will be sought in focus groups taking place during the project, which is being funded by the Department for Transport.

Duncan Vernon, RoSPA Road Safety Manager for England, said: “A range of factors put young drivers at particular risk, including their lack of experience, their weakness in identifying potential hazards and some attitudes, such as over-confidence.

“We also know that driving is one of the most dangerous things that any of us do during our working lives. Deadline pressures, unfamiliar routes and making frequent delivery stops can make driving for work very different to driving at other times and issues such as these are not covered during learner training.

“The Young Drivers at Work project will help us to find effective ways to prevent accidents involving young motorists. The findings will enable us to develop new road safety resources and they will also inform the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) as it develops strategies for post-test training for young drivers at work and lifelong driver development in general.”

RoSPA is working on the project in partnership with the DSA, Driving for Better Business, Buckinghamshire County Council and Lancashire County Council.

A report on the findings will be published in March 2009.

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