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Include cycling awareness in driving test, says IAM

Driving organisation calls for broader, graduated test

Just passing the driving test doesn't equip young drivers to use the roads, says the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The charity wants to see a wider range of driving conditions included in the test, along with more about cycling.

The IAM is calling for the UK driving test to be revamped to make it more relevant to the real world risks that young drivers face. 

Currently the driving test does not include any testing of a driver’s ability to cope with country roads, poor weather or driving at night, even though those areas are the main risk factors in the first six months of solo driving. 

The IAM also wants to see the testing system make sure new drivers know how to behave around cyclists.

IAM’s director of policy and research, Neil Grieg told road.cc: "The IAM are very supportive of the current moves to include more cycling scenarios in the hazard perception test and cycling related questions in the theory test.

“We also want approved driving instructors to discuss cycling safety with learners and be quality assessed on that by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency to ensure it happens."

However, including awareness of cyclists in the practical test is tricky.

Grieg said: “It’s hard to see how any compulsory elements around cycling can be put into the practical test as you never know if you will be passing a cyclist or will have local cycling facilities to deal with during the test. In London it will inevitably be more crucial than in say a rural area but that would be reflected in the learner's experience anyway.”

More broadly, the IAM wants to see a process of graduated testing replace the current system in which drivers are allowed to drive after passing just one set of tests.

Greig said: “The driving test needs to become a much more integrated part of a graduated licensing system that picks up on best practice from around the world. For instance, Austria has a ‘second phase’ licensing system, where young drivers come back in the 12 months after the test for a further three interventions to examine attitude changes and skills.” 

The IAM say young male driver casualties have dropped by a third in in Austria as a result of the initiative. 

The organisation also supports a 12 month minimum learning period prior to taking the practical test, limits on peer passenger numbers, suggests that the practical test includes higher speed roads and supports a lower drink-drive limit for new drivers.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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