YOUNG, would-be motorists who go through a driving tuition project supported by Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner appear to be more than four times safer than those who do not.
They also appear to be less likely to be convicted of a traffic offence.
The latest figures supplied by Pathfinder, the charity which runs courses funded by the county’s PCC Martin Surl, suggest its graduates have an accident rate of 1 in 17 - six per cent - compared with1 in 4 nationally.
“Although the sample is relatively small, these are very encouraging figures and suggest The Pathfinder Project delivers substantial benefits to its students”, said Mr. Surl.
“The danger with an issue like this is to get carried away with statistics and overlook the scale of the misery and suffering behind them.
"However, when you consider that nearly one in three killed or seriously injured on our roads is under the age of 25 and that more than a quarter of 17 to 19-year-olds, most of them young men, crash within a year of passing their driving test, anything that reverses that trend is to be welcomed.
“We have experienced a spate of serious crashes in recent months resulting in an unnecessary loss of life.
"I would like our young people to be better prepared as road users and believe Pathfinder can play an important part in this”.
Pathfinder courses are generally held twice a year in Gloucestershire and are funded through the commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan which has safe and social driving as one of its six priorities.
Pathfinder Director John Beckford said: “Whilst it’s true that we have only started working with the commissioner recently, these findings are consistent with our previous surveys and support our view that appropriately structured and delivered pre-licence driver development, delivers significant safety benefits to this vulnerable group.
“We believe that the consistency in findings is rooted in the consistency of our methods, which focus on developing appropriate attitudes as well as technical skill and are subject to rigorous scrutiny.
“The number of students who have so far participated in the programme in Gloucestershire is small but it’s hoped these early results will encourage more to take part”.
Gloucestershire’s Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, who is the national lead for roads policing, said: “We know that young driver deaths can be prevented by reforming how they learn and establish themselves as safe drivers.
"International evidence demonstrates that pre and post-test restrictions along with a minimum learning period dramatically reduce road death and injury.
“We welcome this local Pathfinder initiative which seeks to promote and enhance safe driving thereby reducing the risks associated with young and novice drivers”
Gloucestershire’s chief fire officer Stewart Edgar, safe and social driving lead for Gloucestershire’s Road Safety Partnership, said: “The Road Safety Partnership welcomes any project that aims to reduce harm to young drivers.
"I hope that in the future even more of our young drivers take part in road safety projects where there is evidence they make a real difference.”