What’s more dangerous? An unsafe vehicle or an unsafe driver?

The 20 May sees the new MOT come into force, with vehicle defects being placed in one of three categories; dangerous, major or minor.

Dangerous means ‘do not drive until the vehicle is repaired’. Major means ‘repair it immediately’. Minor means ‘repair as soon as possible’.

When I look at our driver profiling system, it feels to me that the MOT is starting to mirror the way we have always categorised drivers. We put them into one of three categories too; high, medium or low risk.

Reading about the new MOT it struck me, not for the first time, how inadequately road safety is being tackled, with the Government targeting only part of the problem.

Of course, there’s no dispute that vehicles must be safe and in a roadworthy condition. Yet very few collisions, injuries or deaths on our roads are as a result of a faulty vehicle.

99% are caused by drivers, yet while we place our vehicles through an MOT, drivers remain untested.

Its ironic when you consider that vocational drivers, such as HGV and PCV drivers, must do 35 hours of periodic training every 5 years to be deemed safe enough to continue on our roads, yet everyone else can carry on with no further learning or checks since tearing up their L-plates, and probably having never looked at a Highway Code since.

But what’s the solution? Perhaps at the time of the MOT, any named drivers on the vehicle’s insurance policy also need to take a short online test too.

I’m not suggesting that if they come out high or medium risk they’re not allowed to drive, as this has to be practical and manageable. But couldn’t that trigger a series of online driver training modules and if either the profiling, or modules, or both, are not completed, it causes a rise in the driver’s insurance?

Not only would this encourage drivers to learn safe driving techniques, it would also penalise those not prepared to. It would also place firmly on the agenda the fact that continuous training and learning, post L-test, is essential.

Sadly, while I feel something is needed, I’m not going to hold my hopes up that the Government will do anything soon. But in the meantime, the good news is that an increasing number of companies are putting their at-work drivers through profiling, followed by either e-learning or on road training, depending on drivers’ risk levels.

As a result, we are seeing many organisations enjoy a reduction in the levels of accidents and an improved attitude by drivers to the importance of safe driving.

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