A new report says that young drivers’ cars should be fitted with dashcams that send back footage to parents to assess, in turn helping to drive down accident rates.
The question is though – would you let your folks remotely watch you drive? Your first reaction will most likely be “d’uh, no” at the idea of a parent or guardian monitoring your every move behind the wheel.
After all, the whole idea of driving for many new drivers is independence; an opportunity to start living your own life without adult supervision.
But as we highlighted last week, there are serious problems with new drivers. For instance, 33 are being banned every single day and more worryingly, 25% of people killed or seriously injured on our roads involve motorists between the ages of 17 and 24 – despite the 17-24 age group only representing seven percent of all licence holders.
Driven to distraction
To combat such figures, the RAC Foundation’s ‘Keeping Young Drivers Safe During Early Licensure’ report says installing a in-car camera would ensure young drivers are always aware they are under permanent supervision of their parents.
This would also deal with the difficult ‘catch-22’ situation many young drivers find themselves in; wanting to head out on to the road to get more experience but conversely, putting themselves at an increased risk because they don’t yet have enough experience.
This risk is increased further as young drivers are more prone to be distracted by their mobile phones – answering calls or responding to texts while on the move – and from young passengers. This is combined with other substantial risks including:
Curbing the risk
The RAC Foundation believes installing cameras inside cars would reduce risk: “Whilst teenagers may baulk at the idea of mum and dad effectively supervising their every trip,” says the RAC’s Steve Gooding, “a constant parental presence, delivered through technology, has been shown to moderate risky behaviour behind the wheel.”
To make the tech work, the UK could adopt the techniques of US schemes where the camera (in combination with telematics – see below) constantly records the driver but only stores and sends footage of an actual incident (and the lead up to it) to the parents for assessment.
“[Our] report doesn’t suggest that dash cam footage replaces Strictly or The Voice as regular Saturday night family viewing, but it does argue that greater parental appreciation of what their children get up behind the wheel can be beneficial.”
– Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation.
The RAC’s Gooding also highlights the benefits of using such a camera in conjunction with telematics – a ‘black box’ typically provided by the driver’s insurer that monitors the motorist’s driving. This records whenever risky behaviour is detected such as sharp braking.
Another benefit of telematics is that it can help drive down the huge cost of young driver insurance premiums as well: the average cost of annual cover for a 17-year-old is £2,047 and £2,154 for 18-year-olds. Using telematics though can reduce this figure by up to £500.
The RAC’s Gooding points out: “Every parent of a young driver wants their child to drive safely without having to be in the car themselves, but through ‘black box’ telematics and dash cam technology, virtual supervision can have a big impact.”
Call for Graduated Licensing
The RAC Foundation though doesn’t want to stop there, instead believing that technology is only part of the answer. It also argues that the introduction of Graduated Driving Licensing (GDL) should now be supported and rolled out. It’s an issue we highlighted this summer when the government revealed it was reassessing the GDL’s potential after previously rejecting it.
Such a scheme could introduce various restrictions including a ban on driving at night and giving young passengers a lift because of the distractions they can cause – and even the introduction of a second test after a two-year probation period.
Boxed in by big brother?
When you combine all these proposals – cameras, black boxes, GDLs – it may seem as if you could end up ‘under siege’ from adults virtually monitoring and assessing your every driving move. But there is a bigger issue at play here – your life and the lives of other road users.
Bottom line is that existing accident figures won’t come down until further action is taken to ensure you, the next generation of drivers, are safer on Britain’s roads.