Should schools provide driving lessons and teach and road safety

Catch them young to help slash road deaths and injuries

British schools should take a leaf out of the American book and teach pupils how to drive.

That’s according to one major UK car leasing firm that thinks catching prospective drivers young will cut down on the dreadful toll of road deaths among the under 30s on British roads.

Flexed.co.uk says that even a short series of lessons teaching driving basics, road etiquette and safety will save lives in the long run, and is just as useful as the drive to improve exam results.

“The number of deaths among young drivers is absolutely appalling,” said Flexed spokesman Mark Hall, citing recent government statistics.

“Figures show that a third of those killed or injured are under 30, and one of the major reasons for that is a lack of education and experience,” he says.

That’s why Flexed.co.uk is calling for the introduction of American-style ‘Driver’s Ed’ classes where older pupils are taught the basics of driving on the school grounds or on a nearby off-road lot.

“It means that American kids have a grounding in how to drive while they’re still young, and are taught the responsibility of getting behind the wheel in a controlled situation.”

The British education system has come under increasing criticism from business leaders for turning out students who are great at passing exams, but unprepared for real life; and Flexed thinks that driving is one of the everyday life skills that should be taught in schools.

Flexed.co.uk is convinced that making road safety part of the curriculum could save hundreds of lives every year, and calls for the return of classes that disappeared from schools and youth groups in the 1970s, such as the RoSPA-sponsored cycling proficiency test.

“Pedestrian and cycling deaths actually rose in the year to 2012, according to the latest government figures,” says Hall, “That shows a dire need to teach people basic safety and driving skills.”

Hall even suggests a route that schools can take to teach road safety throughout a pupil’s development:

• Infant schools: Basic road safety and crossing the road
• Primary schools: Road safety and cycling proficiency
• 11-18 years old: Highway code and – for older pupils – basic driving skills

“Driving is a virtually universal skill that’s used by the majority of adults in this country,” says Hall. “Why it’s not taught in our schools and colleges is beyond me.”

“Teach our kids how to drive, and they’ve got something they can take – safely – out into the adult world.”