Driving up standards out of class
A driving school in the South East has launched a campaign to recruit teachers and ex-teachers as instructors.
Kent's Learn2PassUK driving school has 25 driving instructors, a third of whom have worked as teachers, lecturers or instructors in a previous career.
The company's owners claim that the teaching community is ideally placed to improve driving skills among young people.
Anthony Ward, a Learn2Pass driver, taught ICT and maths in secondary schools for 21 years before becoming an instructor. "The experience I had in teaching is a great asset. I came with the experience and knowledge of young people," he said.
"In this job, you have one or two tests a week rather than a big one every one or two years.
"There's a lot less pressure. Seeing a pupil pass their driving test is unbelievable. It gives you great satisfaction."
Mr Ward believes part of the enjoyment is teaching young children something they want to learn.
"How many youngsters aged 17 think, 'Right, I'd better start working for my A-levels now'? They don't. But they all do want to learn to drive."
David Babaian, marketing manager of Learn2Pass, believes the quality of teaching will help to cut the number of road accidents.
"We feel the more qualified teachers in the driving instructor industry the better road education the learner will receive," he said.
"When a teacher comes into the trade they have the skills to teach and convey a message to young people as they have used these for years in the classroom."
According to road safety charity Brake, young drivers are at a much higher risk of accidents than older ones.
Statistics show that road crashes are still the largest single cause of accidental death for those aged five to 35.
Trevor Wedge, chief driving examiner for the Department for Transport's Driving Standards Agency, says that despite the downward trend in fatalities among those aged 17-25 in recent years, the link between accidents and young drivers still needs to be addressed.
"Last year, ministers announced a package of measures to improve the quality of teaching and equip driving instructors," he said.
"There is now a lot more emphasis on the attitude and behaviour of the learner driver than actually passing the test."
Mr Babaian believes that educating young learner drivers to a high standard requires teaching skills.
He said: "I'm sure that in two years' time, as we recruit more quality instructors, we will look at road statistics and see a decrease in deaths."
ACCIDENT PRONE: YOUNGSTERS ON A CRASH COURSE
- About one in eight drivers is aged 25 or under, yet one in three who die on UK roads is under 25
- An 18-year-old driver is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash as a 48-year-old
- One in five new drivers has a crash within a year of passing their test
- Around 16 per cent more drivers aged 16 to 19 are now killed each year compared with 15 years ago
- Young male drivers aged 17 to 20 are seven times more at risk than male drivers as a group - but at 2am-5am the risk is 17 times higher.
Source: the Brake Organisation.