Fake News or an important Road Safety Announcement?

Fake News or an important Road Safety Announcement?

Following Prime Ministers Questions (PMQs) on Wednesday 7 February 2018 several news outlets have heralded the introduction of Graduated Driving Licensing.

MSA GB general manager John Lepine writes; is this Fake News or an important Road Safety Announcement? Is this a carefully crafted government announcement or the media inventing a story around a few words.

Writing in the Mirror online Emma Munbodh the sites personal finance correspondent (not sure how road safety fits into that brief) states.

“A new ‘graduated driving licence’ could see new road users barred from driving after dark"

Express online journalist Luke John Smith writes.

“A new graduated diving licence has been proposed which would impose restrictions of new drivers. These restrictions could last for a two-year period, while the new driver gains more experience. Prime Minister Theresa May has suggested plans for a probationary period for new licence holders.

“New impositions that could also be placed on new drivers include slashing the drink drive limit for the first two years, to reduce other factors that could increase accidents. In addition to this a second test after the probation period may be required.”

The question was asked by the Labour MP for Darlington Jenny Chapman. She asked:

“My constituents’ son was killed by a learner driver who was taking a lesson. With one in four young drivers being involved in an accident within the first two years of starting to drive, and 400 deaths or serious injuries on our roads involving young drivers each year, will the Prime Minister meet me and my constituents to hear their story, and consider introducing a graduated licensing system for the UK, as other countries have done?

As driver trainers we might ask what the link is between the learner driver and new drivers. We might think this was a recent accident in Darlington. The link is clearly somewhat tenuous and the tragic accident in which the son of the constituents of Jenny Chapman died was over three years ago in Scotland.

Replying to the question the Prime Minister said:

“Obviously, the hon. Lady raises an important issue. I will certainly look at her request and I will also ask the Department for Transport to do so. As she says, too many people suffer loss and tragedy at the hands of learner drivers in these circumstances, and we will certainly look at that.”

There is no doubt that this is an important issue. However, the PMs statement that “too many people suffer loss and tragedy at the hands of learner drivers” is somewhat misleading whilst one death at the hands of a learner driver is too many it is simply not true to imply that many people suffer losses at the hands of learner drivers. Fortunately, there are very few casualties involving learner drivers, after all there are two people trying to make sure an accident does not happen. I am writing to Theresa May to ask her to clarify her position on this matter.

But was this question and the answer, just part of everyday parliamentary exchanges or was it carefully designed to re-start the debate about graduated driving licences?

Were the news reports 'Fake News' or an important Road Safety Announcement? Only time will tell.