Is our driving test failing young drivers?

learner_continentaltyresFour in ten new young drivers admit they are unsafe on the road and two thirds of parents agree with them according to a new report released today.

With a revised driving test planned and the theory test now 20 years old, 47 per cent of drivers aged 17 to 24 think that they are not being taught enough about road safety.

Road accidents are the biggest killer of young people and new research reveals 800,000 young motorists think that they have an inadequate level of road safety knowledge. 

The UK research of 1,000 motorists aged 17 to 24 and 1,000 parents of young drivers as part of Continental Vision Zero, a campaign that strives for improved road safety, found that 50 per cent of young motorists would not know where to start with basics like checking their tyres.

Less than half of young road users know what the legal tyre tread limit is and only one in five have no idea what solution, such as a spare tyre, they have available in an event of a puncture.

Mark Griffiths, safety expert at Continental Tyres, said: “Every day in the UK, around nine people die or are seriously injured from a road accident that involves a young car driver. It is vital for 17 to 24 year olds to receive adequate road safety information as they learn to drive, setting them up for a lifetime of safe motoring.”

Shortcomings in the practical driving test

Changes to the practical driving test following the recent consultation include increasing the time of independent driving to 20 minutes, following directions from a sat nav during independent driving, replacing manoeuvres such as reversing around a corner with more common moves such as parking in a bay and asking one of the two vehicle safety questions (e.g. how to use the rear heated screen) while driving.

But parents are also in need of road safety education yet there is no practical driving test or educational solution for them.

When asked about a tyre’s legal tread depth limit, parents were 30 per cent less likely than their children to know the correct answer – only three in ten parents knew it is 1.6mm.

Reflecting their driver failings, one in five young motorists don’t know how to open their car bonnet and a third have no idea how to top up their screen wash.

As agreed by young drivers, the top solutions for improving their safety and that of others are better education (70 per cent), more enforcement such as harsher penalties (38 per cent) and making routine safety checks a feature of the driving test (36 per cent).

FOXY Steph

FOXY Lady Drivers Club can help motoring Mums and daughters who may be learning to drive with motoring related advice. When it comes to tyre safety we are particularly active. Why not consider joining us or buying Club membership including preferential car insurance for women from sister company FOXY Lady Insurance among other benefits?

Red Card for Leandra re part worn tyre sales

leandra_tyreAfter her father was prosecuted in April 2015 and fined £26000 for selling illegal tyres under the business name of Moss Tyres in Grantham you’d expect co-worker daughter Leandra McKenzie to have learned an important lesson.

But clearly not.

Following complaints from local residents, Lincolnshire Trading Standards conducted a test purchase a mere two months later, in June 2015, when they were sold two illegal part worn tyres by Ms McKenzie.

Neither tyres were stamped correctly (to show they had at least been checked, as far as the UK system goes) and one tyre had a deep cut through the tread making it dangerous.

Ms McKenzie was ordered to pay fines and costs of just over £8,000 when convicted in late August 2016.

Never buy part worn tyres

As tempting as it might be to buy cheap tyres, we recommend that members NEVER buy used tyres called PART WORN. That’s because you never know where they’ve been before they might get fitted to your car.

Advice from TyreSafe charity’s Chairman Stuart Jackson is to reconsider buying a part worn tyre because there are cheap new budget tyres available at similar prices. Not only are new tyres ALWAYS the safer choice but they’ll last longer and represent better value for money.
But if a motorist is still tempted to buy used tyres, she should make sure that they carry the words PART WORN stamped on the tyres. If not, these tyres are unlikely to have been checked as fit for sale and the retailer is already breaking the law.

Andy Wright, Principal Trading Standards Officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “Two things are particularly concerning here. First, that as the tyres failed to have the correct labelling on – with no distinction whether they were part worn or not – consumers had no idea what they were buying. Secondly, the damage to the tyre meant its structure could have been compromised. This tyre could have had life-threatening consequences for innocent motorists, their families and other road users.

Red Card Award

red_card_leandra_400FOXY says – Given that she knew the law and had seen her father suffer the consequences of selling illegal tyres it is particularly galling that Leandra would ignore this warning.

Not just that, she also seemed to get off relatively lightly here compared to her father.

Whilst it’s rare for us to award Red Cards for bad behaviour, we have no hesitation in handing one out to Leandra on two counts.

1/ For selling a product that she knew could kill an innocent motorist.

2/ For letting her gender (and her family) down. She should have known better and cared more. Especially after seeing her father humiliated in this way.

As the UK’s only everyday motoring club representing the best interests of women drivers, we are deeply ashamed of you Leandra.

For more information

If you’d like to know more about tyre safety matters please visit or

FOXY Steph

PS: During Tyre Safety Month (October 2016) we have a lot of practical information available to help you understand this vital subject better and to reward you for having your tyres checked by a FOXY Lady Approved garage and/or tyre centre. Always best to join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to have this support on hand and from within.

Justice For Joseph road safety award

liz_mcinnesLiz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton, has received road safety charity Brake and the Direct Line Group’s Parliamentarian of the Month Award for her involvement in the Justice for Joseph campaign as well as her ongoing work in support of Brake’s Roads to Justice.

Joseph Brown-Lartey was killed instantly on his drive home by Addil Haroon who smashed into Joseph’s Audi cutting it in two.

Haroon was unlicensed, uninsured, ran a red light and was travelling at 80mph in a 30 mph zone when he killed Joseph.

The collision was described by police officers who attended the scene as the worst they had ever seen on an urban street.

Addil Haroon received a six year sentence after he pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and will serve three of those years behind bars before he is automatically released.

The Justice For Joseph road safety campaign

Liz McInnes has been extremely supportive of the family and their campaign ‘Justice for Joseph’ which has had significant backing from regional radio station Key 103. In April she joined the family in presenting a petition at 10 Downing Street which had been signed by more than 20,000 people.

Liz also brought the case to the attention of then Prime Minister David Cameron in Prime Minister Questions. And in July she was one of several MPs who attended the launch of Brake’s Roads to Justice campaign which is calling for stronger sentences for those that kill and severely injure people.

Accepting her Award, Liz McInnes, MP for Heywood and Middleton, said: ‘I am very humbled to be given this award. There are many others both inside and outside parliament who work tirelessly to champion this cause and I accept it on their behalf. Victims of dangerous driving and their families deserve justice, and sentencing laws for these crimes urgently need to be reviewed. I will continue to apply pressure on the government and to do all I can to promote Brake and the Justice for Joseph campaign.’

Mary Berry – Queen of Cakes (and Motoring)

Photo thanks to Richard Daniels of Ardquoy.

Not only is Mary Berry an inspiration to wannabe better home bakers but she is now a mature role model to those of us who might want to be a better driver too.

Mary has been a member of the IAM since the 1950s and has just completed her latest Mature Driver Assessment showing that she counts on driving experts to bring her up to date with the latest motoring know-how.

Mary was presented with her certificate for having completed the assessment by IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer Sarah Sillars at the Kop Hill Climb, a Buckinghamshire-based motoring event which raises tens of thousands of pounds for local charities.

To be clear, this assessment isn’t a test and you don’t need to be as mature as Mary Berry to take it. It’s simply a review for those of us who might feel the need to ask driving-related questions and to put right any bad habits we’re bound to have acquired.

In short, anyone who has been driving for more than ten years after passing their test will probably benefit from an IAM Roadsmart refresher driving course which may or may not be called a Mature Driver Assessment.

You can find out more about such choices including the IAM RoadSmart Mature Driver Assessment at their website.

FOXY Steph

PS: If you know any female who needs help with motoring related matters, including buying, running and maintaining a car, please suggest she joins FOXY Lady Drivers Club. This could be a daughter leaving home, a Mum on her own, any recently widowed or divorced lady or anyone reading this who finds this area intimidating. Our £24 lifetime membership is highly affordable and a really caring gift. Here’s where to join us.

Learning to drive – again

Claire and Kids
Claire and Kids
This blog has been written by Club member Claire Jones-Hughes who runs She raises some interesting points about refresher training for us all.

A year ago my husband passed his driving test, at the tender age of 47 years old.

While I was extremely proud of his achievement, driving around with a learner again can be quite frustrating – not least because he started to correct my tired and bad habits!

But do we ever stop learning to drive, even after passing our test?

And should we periodically have top-up driving lessons to improve our skills? 
I passed my test when I was 17 years old. Living in suburban market town where the public transport links were fair but not enough to rely on for everything, having a car was a must, especially for your social life. Me and my sixth form classmates would share lifts to the pub or gigs, even drive to college. It never occurred me not to badger my parents for driving lessons or to get a part-time job to pay for my own fuel.  
So when my husband, Andy, started to learn, I had 24 years experience behind the wheel with some substantial business miles clocked up throughout my career too. I didn’t think I had anything to learn at all! But I was wrong.

Bad driving habits  
Firstly, I don’t consider myself a risk-taking driver but it was obvious from my husband’s learner observations I had developed some bad habits. The more common ones were not having two hands on the steering wheel in the ten-to-two position. And following locally accepted lane-discipline on roundabouts instead of the hard and fast rule that anything past ‘midday’ location is technically a right turn.  
Then there was the theory test, which in my version of the driving exam was a couple of questions at the end. Invariably the test centre used the same rehash of questions, so the whole of my 6th form class traded answers after their tests just in case. When I took the most current on-line theory test, I failed! Only by 1 question but you have get 43/50 to pass.  
I think most of us would admit we’re not perfect drivers but I’m going to be blatantly honest about a few rules I’d either forgotten or just never learned properly. I have always signalled when moving out of a parked space but way too early. My husband learned you don’t need to signal until you’re actually ready to move to car into the road. Otherwise how would other drivers know you haven’t got your hazard lights on?

Same for safely moving past an obstruction on the road or parked car; if the road is clear to pass safely, signalling is not necessary (yep, I was indicator happy on that one too). 

Roundabout logic 
Lane discipline at roundabouts is based on the clock system. My husband and I had a few heated debates on this one I can tell you! Anything past midday actually counts as a right turn, therefore you should be in the right lane. Now through local knowledge, this may be different but technically you would not be wrong if you followed this rule.  
Having a learner driver in the house really did us all some good. For the first time in years I started to question some of my driving and also research road rules where I’d experience aggression from other drivers, such as who has priority driving up a hill and how to drive responsibly around cyclists. It gives you peace of mind to know you’re following the Highway Code and to ignore other impatient drivers.  
It does beg the question, why do we stop learning to drive when roads and cars can change so much during a lifetime of driving?

Perhaps a periodic theory test should be part of maintaining your licence?

I certainly think this could have a huge benefit for our roads and the environment.

FOXY comment

Thank you Claire for raising this important issue about driver training.

The current situation is unsatisfactory because we are leaving motorists on their own for too long after passing their driving test. Yes, there should be compulsory refresher training, but how to do this.

It’s all very well for the Government to expect us to keep up to date with the Highway Code but there’s no easy way to see what’s changed since we last read it. And it’s not the most riveting read despite our needing to cope with increasingly congested roads, changing speed limits, new road signs and the added distraction of onboard car and personal technology.

Even if there were the sort of refresher training courses we can envisage, I can’t see a ground swell of motorists queuing to pay for this unless it was mandated (or paid for?) by an employer or an insurer.

Certainly there is an unfulfilled demand for added female driver knowledge and education providing this isn’t patronising, male dominated or as expensive as some options appear to be.

And yet, providing the right financial model can be found, this is an opportunity for driver training to become socially-enjoyable events if organised on a gender basis. Where we can all be honest about any personal motoring weaknesses in like-minded company. In my experience, women are more likely to suffer (or admit to) a loss of driver confidence and there is a definite demand among us to maintain our own cars in between annual garage visits.

Whilst this may be but a part of the refresher training solution, local garage evenings often help. We promote approved garage events that teach car maintenance and associated matters, at our website, as and when we are involved.

And please visit the IAM Roadsmart website to see which of their new courses might fit the bill in future. Maybe your employer or local association group might want to organise a company scheme?

FOXY Steph

A blog for women about motoring