Pupils face drive to improve scooter safety record

ITALY.

TWO-THIRDS OF the two million secondary pupils who drive scooters to school regularly lose control of their vehicles, and during the past year one in four has been involved in an accident, according to a new study.

The research, carried out by CENSIS (Centre of Studies for Social Investment), makes alarming reading. More than half (56 per cent) of 14 to 19-year-olds interviewed admitted that they went through amber traffic lights, and 64 per cent admitted to drink-driving. Only a quarter were identified as "careful" riders.

Education minister Letizia Moratti is thinking of introducing compulsory road safety programmes in all schools. Currently they are optional at 15 per cent of schools. Vespas and their ilk are the favourite form of transport for 75 per cent of high school pupils. A scooter is a fashion statement; for boys it also indicates masculinity.

Since March 2000, crash helmets have been compulsory for all riders, and more than 80 per cent now use them. About 18 people die on Italy's roads every day.

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