David Stewart, MSP and Road Safety Campaigner
Highlands & Islands Regional MSP and Road Safety Campaigner, David Stewart, has welcomed news from the UK Government that they plan to seriously now consider introducing a form of Graduated Driving Licence later this year.
“Since 2010 I have been campaigning for a form of Graduated Driving Licence to be introduced for young and new drivers,” said Mr Stewart.
“In the Scottish Parliament, there is broadly cross party support for such a scheme evidenced by the support of motions I have laid down in the Parliament on this issue. However as the matter is reserved to the UK Government, I, along with other organisations, have being trying to persuade successive UK Cabinet Secretaries for Transport to adopt such a scheme and after 10 years we seem to be finally getting there.
“My main campaign on this issue was the ‘Sensible Driving – Always Arriving’ campaign (www.sensibledriving.org.uk), which was initially set up in 2010.
“We know that in Scotland for example, as a result of research carried out by Dr Sarah Jones of Cardiff University that if such a scheme was adopted here up to 22 lives could be saved per year and up to £80 million to the Scottish Economy.”
Looking at past campaign work undertaken and the current statistics, Mr Stewart continued: “In previous years I have met with staff from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in London and they were able to produce a document showing all the positive benefits of such a scheme and the lives that could be saved if such a scheme were to be introduced including savings to the economy.
“For example this research revealed that in Scotland alone 12.5% of all road collision involve a driver aged between 17 and 19 years.
“Alarmingly, in the Highlands and Grampian areas 15.7 % of all collisions involve a driver aged between 17 and 19 years. In these areas alone we, could reduce the casualties by 64 and prevent those killed or seriously injured by 13, if a graduated licence scheme was introduced."
David Stewart has also met with the RAC Foundation and locally with driving groups and organisations; and has researched and produced briefings on advantages gleaned from overseas countries which have adopted such schemes.
And the MSP is no delighted that a Graduated Driving Licence could soon be a reality in the UK also.
“I understand that the Prime Minister has agreed to seriously consider introducing this scheme and she has asked the Department of Transport to look again at the issue,” Mr Stewart said.
“I have written to the Transport Secretary, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, seeking clarity now on the Governments latest position and I am of course grateful to all those who campaigned with me and the group I set up – North Of Scotland Driver Awareness Scheme (NOSDAT) – to help secure such a scheme.
“It has been a long road to get this far and we are not over the finish line yet, but for those who have lost loved ones I hope we can get these changes in the law which will alleviate some of the pain they have endured.”
He added: “I truly believe that this scheme, if finally introduced, is a positive step to make our roads safer and I am convinced it will hopefully save many young lives.
“It is a truism that there is no greater loss than the loss of a child. Let’s hope that now at last we are taking positive action to address the carnage on our roads involving particularly young people.”