Why aren’t we more worried about the safety of 16 year-olds on mopeds?
No more so is this statement true than when it is applied to young moped users. And with another moped fatality emblazoned across our news pages, albeit because of trolling, should the government reconsider allowing people as young as 16 to ride scooters on British roads, with only a provisional licence?
Acquiring one is easy, all it takes is £50 and some details. After that, there’s only the CBT (compulsory basic training) to get through, and to pass is a lot easier it would seem than sitting a maths A Level or trying to pull your best friends’ big sister. It only takes a day. And then you’re off.
But despite the dangers being highlighted time and again, unlicensed teenagers are able to ride on the two-wheeled lawnmowers, and are involved in accidents all too often. Granting that level of responsibility, to themselves and to other road users, is surely too much?
Currently, the DSA is looking into moped training, and proposals are likely to be tabled soon with amendments. It is a long time coming, but a welcome change in light of the accident rates to young riders.
Of course the independence they give to young people is paramount to scooter popularity, and it would be deemed a travesty to a section of our already marginalised youth to strip them of their only individual transport. But while CBT tests are currently being addressed, and of course any improvements to the basic schooling can’t be a bad thing, they will still be as part of a provisional licence and the preparation they give will retain its limitations compared to full licensing.
It doesn’t take long to find the latest scores of accidents: on Monday ‘This is Derbyshire’ reported the death of a 16-year-old boy who died after crashing his scooter into a wall. On consecutive days in March, a girl of 16 was taken to hospital after falling off her vehicle, and in Essex a boy of the same age was killed due to crashing into a lamppost.
Whether it’s purely a tragic accident, the ‘macho attitude’ of boy racers or just that teenagers are probably more likely to be texting while they take the turning into McDonalds, young people are adding to the gloomy statistics far too often.
An IAM report, ‘16-19 year-olds: driving into danger’, showed that despite moped usage being lower than other means of transportation, accident rates were significantly higher. It says: “less than 2 per cent of all their journeys are made on a moped or motorcycle, but nearly 30 per cent of all fatal and serious injury accidents in this age group are to riders.” And adds: “16-year-olds in their first year of riding mopeds are particularly vulnerable.”
In a second study, which was mentioned in a Telegraph article a few years ago when the CBT changes were first called for by the IAM, further evidence is revealed: “At 16, more boys die or are seriously injured while riding a moped than walking, cycling or travelling by car.” And: “of almost 3,500 teenage moped riders who were killed or seriously injured over the seven years between 2000 and 2006, almost 2,000 of them were 16-year-olds, and the study found that it is mainly 16-year-old boys who are at risk.”
What’s more, sixteen-year-olds also make up more than half of the 3,000 annual moped-rider casualties. At 17, the number of KSI crashes (killed or seriously injured) halves, and then halves again at 18.
Back in 2004, the Department for Transport published an in-depth study into motorcycle incidents. It is not surprising that it found right-of-way violations, manoeuvrability issues, losing control on bends and impaired riding to be the main issues concerning motoring on two wheels. The document states: “There are two main groups of riders that interventions should be focussed on. The ﬁrst is young and inexperienced riders of smaller capacity machines such as scooters, and the second is older, more experienced riders of higher capacity machines. Both the skills and attitudes of these riders need to be addressed. Inexperience, limited driving skills and immaturity are all issues.”
The study also echoes the IAM analysis, with a graph showing the age distribution of motorcycle accidents. Out of a total of 1,790 accidents examined, nearly 400 of them were 16 to 20-year-olds, far more than any other age band.
The government, DSA and DVLA are seemingly well aware then of the perils surrounding the transport medium. On the motorcyclist page on the Department for Transport’s ‘Think!’ website, it reads: “In 2010, motorcycle riders were 57 times more likely to be killed, 65 more likely to seriously injured and 13 times more likely to be slightly injured than car drivers. In 2010, 403 motorcycles died and 4,780 were seriously injured in road collisions in Great Britain.”
There is no chance of raising the age from 16 to 17; but if 16-year-olds are able to drive a vehicle at 16, why is it then that they are on wobbly mopeds rather than cars. The obvious answer is that cars pose a greater risk to other road users, but that’s basically sacrificing the well-being of a young person for everyone else. If they can’t be trusted to act responsibly around others in a car, how is there assurance enough that they’ll take care of their own life? A DVLA spokesman said: “The minimum age of 16 is specified in section 101 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The age was set on the understanding that the lightness of these vehicles and slower speed meant they could be driven safely at that age.” That’s fair enough, but really, speed is not the only factor when determining safety.
It seems rather disjointed that the youngest road-users in our society are the ones most at risk. While accidents are considered sad, today they appear to be accepted as normality by too many. If nothing else, the speculated tweaks to the CBT are much needed.Tagged in: driving, moped, road safety
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