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Road Deaths and Teenage Girls: Who Cares? Guest blog by Professor Peter Russell

7K0A0783Road Deaths and Teenage Girls: Who Cares?

I want you all to look at a more obscure, but incredibly important, aspect of Road Safety that has more to do with passengers than drivers. Initially it appears to be a surprising and awful statistic that young girls between the ages of twelve and sixteen are proportionately more involved in road crashes and road deaths than boys of the same age.

However, even the most cursory research will give clues to the reasons why this happens. Girls of this age group naturally go through a whole range of emotional and physical changes. They progress through the challenges of puberty and menarche; and, with the freedom that secondary education brings, find themselves overwhelmed with options to break free from parental control. The temptations on offer include smoking, shoplifting, alco-pops, soft and hard drugs, legal-highs, under-age sex, texting, sexting and riding in fast cars.

The only links are risk and the chance to cock a snook at society in general, and their parents in particular! When you ask teenage girls about ‘Personal RISK’ you will find many answers. They may not recognise the proportions of the risk, but when presented with a statement that says ‘smoking gives you cancer’. They often reply that just one cigarette cannot possibly kill you immediately and they don’t really care if they die of cancer when they get old. The unusual concept here though is that ‘old’ for a fourteen year-old is perhaps twenty-one; and certainly no more than twenty-five.

The term ‘teenage girls’ can almost be divided into two disparate extremes: those who are still comfortably under the control of their parents or guardians; and those who desperately crave the ability to shock. Regrettably, teaching them about risk, even the risk of death or serious injury, has little effect. They buy cigarette packets which are emboldened with the words ‘smoking kills’. They go shoplifting en-masse; quite often as a means of passing a peer group test. They all know other girls who have tried under-age sex and not all of them have become pregnant; and, of course, most kind of illegal drugs are readily available in almost every school playground.

So it is with riding in stolen cars or with unsafe drivers. Unlicensed drivers who steal cars know they can get away with it, without being caught, most of the time, and they know too that if (or even when) they are caught the punishment is laughable. At least it seems laughable to their friends. Even the thought of attending a court carries no great stigma. And there is nothing quite like the ‘buzz’ of driving, or being a passenger in, a car at high-speed deliberately putting their lives at risk. For impressionable young girls, sitting with an older boyfriend behind the wheel it is so easy forget or ignore a lifetime’s warnings from mums and dads. Life is fun! Isn’t it? Is there anything that parents and teachers can do?

Many Graduate Driving Instructors, who form the highest proportion of Members of I.D.E.R., have studied the problems associated with teenage girls being proportionately more involved in car crash injuries and deaths than boys of the same age. We looked at the reasons and it seems that a normal ‘educational’ approach about the risk has little or no effect. “Coming for a ride? ” holds no more fear for many teenagers than popping a pill, or getting drunk and being incapable. After all what is incapable? It is only another sensation. And you need as many sensations as you can before you get old, or even reach twenty- one. So if young girls discuss and then discard the risk as not worth worrying about, what Educational roles remain?

Shock videos in road safety television adverts, detailing the gruesome injuries and the risk of death obviously don’t work. It is easy to dis-associate yourself from unwelcome adverts. If this were not true cigarette sales amongst the young would be nil. And so would the deaths of passengers in stolen cars or those badly driven by inexperienced drivers. It is apparent that peer group pressure is one of the strongest factors that govern the lives of teenage girls. So much of everything they do and wear is the subject of what effect this will have on ‘authority’. And this is where traditional Educational approaches to changing teenagers’ behaviour fail.

Traditionally young girls prefer to seek boy friends from an age group about three to five years older than themselves. There are a number of reasons for this. Fourteen year old boys are not usually emotionally ready for relationships with girls. And when they discover this interest they find that the girls of their own age are already interested in boys who are older. Therefore they have more success with younger girls. So we have a self-perpetuating system.

There is a strong school of thought that argues that when relationships are based on couples of similar age, the female is more dominant and the male less likely to take risks. But where the boy is older the girl is happy to go along for the ride – as it were. And this is how they live – and die. Traditional lectures, mentoring and discussions on road safety, risk and changing driver behaviour do not succeed; but there may be an alternative ‘educational’ method that may work. Throughout this summer I have been involved in an International ‘Expert Think- Tank’ discussing how these unnecessary deaths and injuries can be reduced. My own view is that learning – change of behaviour – has more chance of success when personal involvement is required.. I wonder whether it would be possible to create a survey which invites girls to put their own personal ‘wish- list’ of risks into proportion. This may be too drastic for some teachers and road safety specialists who just say ‘avoid all risk’ and leave it at that. I feel that if risks could be put into context, the more responsible youngsters might decide to miss out the risks that have more immediate chances of happening. What do you think?

What can you, as Graduate Driving Instructors, do to reduce the absurd road safety statistic that means more girls in the 12-16 year-old group will be killed or seriously injured than boys of the same age. One obvious reason is that when youngsters steal cars for what they call ‘joy-riding’ and what others call car theft, the boys tend to do the driving and are marginally safer behind a steering wheel airbag than their unbelted passengers, especially those in the rear seats.

Most often the passengers tend to be girls. When crashes inevitably occur the passengers are more likely to be killed by being thrown out of bursting doors or through the windscreens than the drivers. That is the challenge; the problem is how to educate, inform, train, or bring home, the risk factors to those involved. Those who want to put the task onto teachers are dodging the real issue. The girls who are usually involved are not those who respond well in schools.

Road Safety officers would probably never touch first base with them either. However this does not mean that efforts must rest solely on the parents, although these are the ones with the greatest interest in cutting down deaths. One suggestion which I favour is to invite youngsters to discover their own views on their own personal risk, perhaps by making comparisons of various risk factors. They could be invited to compare the likelihood of dying or serious injury as a result of smoking, of taking drugs or of driving in un-safe or dangerous situations. If this is a viable method then perhaps the best way to get the message through is by using the pages of girls’ magazines, or feeding life-like story lines into some of today’s favourite television soaps.

Once upon a time most books and television stories aimed at impressionable audiences always emphasised that bad actions eventually resulted in bad reactions. If people stole cars they crashed them and died. Neither ‘Noddy’ nor ‘Mr Toad’ was ever allowed to benefit from dangerous driving. These days when youngsters steal cars in soap stories; car thieves escape punishment, either judicial or moral; and carry on as before. Even in radio programmes such as the Archers they still allow their young roughnecks to be glorified.

Their victims forgive them, in spite of fears of living with the consequences after leg amputation, etc; the culprits never change their attitudes and later on they buy cars without any worries about the problems that real people have getting satisfactory and affordable insurance cover. The reasons we have spent twelve whole months looking at this problem, before returning to our traditional themes of helping those who wish to become better Professional Driver Trainers is that we are all personally involved in finding solutions. Solutions have been offered that have baffled road safety experts and will still continue to do so – perhaps forever.

We have promoted this challenge today, in the hope that some of our readers will recognise the opportunities of reducing teenage road deaths, both boys and girls, within their own family circles and they can find solutions at their own level of this national problem.
Notes
I.D.E. R. – The INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE for DRIVER EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH – represents those Government Approved Driving Instructors who have gained University recognition as GRADUATE DRIVER TRAINERS: and was formed in 2011 to encourage a greater Educational Psychological involvement in practical Driver Training and Testing. IDER’s PreI.D.E.R. President, Professor Peter RUSSELL, a qualified and experienced Educational Psychologist; operated his own Driving School in Southampton from 1957 until 1980, when he took a Master’s degree, followed by his Doctorate; both in Advanced Driver Education. He then took on various Global Road Safety roles: initially with the International Association for Driver Education (I.V.V.); the European Union & Commission (Road Safety Advisory Committee; the UK Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, (PACTS); as Training Director of BSM; and General Secretary of the ADI – National Joint Council (ADI-NJC); the Driving Instructors Association (DIA Int).; and the Motor Schools Association of GB (MSA). Still not retired, Professor RUSSELL, lives at 32B Thorold Road, Bitterne Park, SOUTHAMPTON SO18 1JB; Tel 02380 582480; and 07725 842348; he works regularly for the NHS and DIABETES UK on Research and Complaints projects. He is a regular broadcaster, speaker and writer on Health & Road Safety challenges. Date of Publication 1st June 2016
The ANNUAL PRESIDENTIAL LECTURE GIVEN TO Members of the International Institute of DRIVER EDUCATION RESEARCH: Summer Semester 2016; by President Professor Peter RUSSELL of Bitterne Park, SOUTHAMPTON SO18 1JB (Tel 02380 582480) Dated: 1st : June 2016
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Nadia Newman
Nadia Newman
2019-09-17T19:33:57+0000
I would really recommend Jackie as a driving instructor for anyone thinking of having driving lessons. It took me a while to start getting the hang of driving and Jackie really helped being a great teacher, supportive and building my confidence driving. It was really good being able to fit in extra lessons closer to my test and having lots of feedback. Thanks to her I was able to pass first time!read more
Rachel Morse
Rachel Morse
2019-09-15T12:37:23+0000
I completed my part 2 and 3 training with Kathy. At the time I was actually with another driving school. I found Kathy very supportive and approachable, and thanks to her help and guidance I passed my part 2 first time. During my part 3 training I realised that I wanted to join Insight 2 Drive. I liked the idea of working with a team of other instructors, and the level of continued training and support that Kathy and the academy team could offer. Kathy, Leanne and Jackie were all really helpful and I thoroughly enjoyed my training sessions with them, as I learned something new each time. They were always there when I needed help, and I never felt alone. Thanks to the help and support I received from Kathy, Leanne and Jackie, I achieved my goal and passed my part 3 and I can’t thank each of them enough. The training doesn’t stop there though, Kathy ensures that regular CPD course are available for all of the team, in order to help us develop and grow. For anyone looking to change career and train to become a driving instructor, I would highly recommend doing it with Kathy and the academy team at Insight 2 Drive. They will ensure they steer you towards success!read more
Derek Rodgers
Derek Rodgers
2019-09-05T18:22:48+0000
I chose Insight2Drive to support me through my ADI Training as I really appreciated the personal approach. I didn’t feel like a number, but a person. They worked with me to ensure that I was a great instructor and as a by product of that, I passed my Part 3 (exactly how I do with my learners). I never felt under pressure to succeed, I was supported and that I could ask anyone of the trainers for help/assistance at any point. Thank you so much for all the support and I like that this hasn’t stopped since I qualified. This is why I am now part of the business, we’re a team and I really enjoy that especially in a role that can be isolating at times. Thanks again Derek Rodgers 👍🚗👍read more
Leanne Brakell
Leanne Brakell
2019-08-02T11:12:51+0000
I would highly recommend insight2drive.my instructor Leanne is amazing I look forward to my lessons with her. she makes me feel so comfortable an has built my confidence up so much anyone looking to take driving lessons I highly recommend this company xread more
Laura Spark
Laura Spark
2019-07-20T11:09:25+0000
Had an excellent time being taught to drive by Colin - he really helped me with my confidence on the road and had loads of great tips! Thank you!read more
Catherine Williams
Catherine Williams
2019-07-17T20:03:54+0000
Jackie is a great driving instructor, without her patience I would have struggled to learn the more difficult manoeuvres. She kept the lessons interesting and fun and worked around my schedule. Revision material provided helped to keep things fresh in my memory. I would recommend Jackie to anyone thinking of taking driving lessons. Kal Williamsread more
Kayleigh Smith
Kayleigh Smith
2019-07-13T18:55:58+0000
I am currently doing my lessons with Rachel. Rachel has helped me gained my confidence behind the wheel again and has helped me achieve a lot. Always gives me the confidence boost when I’m nervous and always gives me great advice. Thank you for all your help Rachel, definitely a credit to insight2driveread more
Louise Croft
Louise Croft
2019-07-09T11:38:47+0000
Deborah Jordan was really friendly, My son loved his lessons with her, extremely calm and a caring instructor, excellent communication and reliable, Deborah was truly amazing and supported him during his test, thank you so much!!read more
Rebecca Johanson
Rebecca Johanson
2019-06-18T10:57:37+0000
Started my lessons in April with Maria & have passed today 18th June 1st time. Maria was such a good instructor, taught me how she knew I learned best & gave me so much confidence. I honestly cant thank her enough. xxread more
Guy Shread
Guy Shread
2019-05-25T16:24:55+0000
I was recommended Colin through a friend. He was very patient with my constant asking of questions and I felt he had a genuine interest in helping me pass and become a confident driver. He really settled my nerves on my test day and thanks to this I passed first time!read more
Malaika Wong
Malaika Wong
2018-12-04T09:44:39+0000
My 17 year old daughters confidence was knocked by a previous instructor. On her first lesson with Kerrie, she had big smiles. Thanks to Kerrie's teaching methods my daughter no longer hated driving and passed first time! Fabulous instructor and beautiful person. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I'm a happy and proud mum.read more
Kriss James
Kriss James
2018-07-31T15:16:25+0000
Just want to say how much of a fantastic instructor Karen is. Karen made me feel very comfortable as a learner and made the lessons fun and engaging. Thank you so so much.read more
Karen Errity
Karen Errity
2018-04-15T17:37:41+0000
Loved doing my ADI Training with insight2drive. Why? It was fun and hardwork at the same time. Since becoming a professional ADI, I enjoy being part of a team of like minded instructors whose aim is to teach safe competent driving for life and not just pass a test. Kathy and the training team continue to provide CPD (continuous professional development) to all the team so we keep our standards high, which makes us the best training academy in the region for learners to be the best they can. 5 stars all the way guys �����read more
Debra Jordan
Debra Jordan
2018-04-15T10:07:09+0000
The best !! Kathy and the team provide the best support, catering for whatever needs the pupil has, can't recommend them enoughread more
Ellie Ianson
Ellie Ianson
2017-11-30T18:47:41+0000
Leanne was recommended to me by a friend in work, after being let down by my previous driving instructor who couldn't fit lessons in for me around my work schedule. After failing my first driving test at Southport in the summer with my previous instructor, I had already rebooked my test in Norris Green for the beginning of November when i started my lessons with Leanne in September. We had a lot of work to do in a short space of time. Leanne went out of her way to make time for me and pushed me to do the best i can. She was always thorough in her lessons and helped calm my nerves as i was a really anxious driver. I passed first time using insight2drive and can not thank Leanne enough for helping me, would recommend her to anyone!read more
Samantha Cain
Samantha Cain
2017-11-17T15:16:56+0000
One of their drivers Andy has robbed me off my money, cancelled on me every week with fake excuses and cancelled on my friend the next day with a complete other excuse so I asked for my money back (6 weeks in a row he cancelled), he then only partly gave me my money back (after waiting over 3 weeks for it) and kept the rest and is now ignoring all messages, I have contacted the company who are also blanking my messages. I’m not one to complain usually especially as he was previously a good instructor but taking somebody’s money and not repaying them back when you haven’t provided a service is disgraceful. I don’t see how you can expect someone to pass their test if you cancel most weeks. I have tried to sort this out with both Andy and Insight 2 Drive and both are now ignoring me so I will be taking this furtherread more
Danny Linacre
Danny Linacre
2017-07-23T18:53:04+0000
When I first started with Leanne I hadnt drove on the road for about 4 years and had really bad habits from driving a forklift she was really patient and I felt really comfortable with her all have the lessons were enjoyable and she managed to get threw in under 3 months with a 1st time pass I couldn't recommend insight2drive highly enough and especially Leanne she was brilliant.read more
Pauline Harvey
Pauline Harvey
2017-07-06T15:19:25+0000
I was recommended insight to drive by my friend Amanda who was also a driving instructor, I was buying a birthday package for my son, he was allocated Jerry Dowling as his instructor, I couldn't have asked for a better instructor he has helped Sam so much, and today he passed his test. Well done Sam and many thanks for all your help Jerry.read more
Jessica Claire
Jessica Claire
2015-03-16T15:06:24+0000
I began my driving lessons with another school shortly after my 18th birthday and it was horrific. I had an instructor who was a family friend and did us a 'discount' for this relationship. It was the biggest waste of time and money that i had ever invested in and after almost 40 hours of driving around Liverpool whilst he was on his phone and other distracting things I stopped and restarted when I was 20. I started with Leanne and after one lesson she gave me her estimated number of lessons I would require in order to pass to which i was shocked as it was so low!!! Even though I had a few bad habits from the instructor before. I absolutely loved my driving lessons and am writing this review 4 hours after passing 1st time in the time frame which Leanne had said it would be. She is an amazing instructor who I beyond trust and will be recommending to any friends or family who tell me they are thinking of learning to drive. I had an absolute ball on my lessons and am now considering to do my pass plus in order to do more lessons with her as i enjoyed them so much!! Many Thanks Leanne!! Don't think I could have done it without you!!read more
Sean O'leary
Sean O'leary
2014-10-25T18:59:23+0000
Passed my driving test first time with Stuart harrison adi would highly recommend Stuart to anyone who wants to learn to drive in a safe and confident way great instructorread more
Marie Boyd
Marie Boyd
2014-08-14T10:46:47+0000
Just passed my driving test with Barbra porter! Couldn't of asked for a better instructor.. So happy! From Abbie :) x
Lana McLean Mifa
Lana McLean Mifa
2014-07-14T22:12:21+0000
Joan An Vinny Bingham
Joan An Vinny Bingham
2014-06-22T23:48:17+0000
Connor Ledgerton
Connor Ledgerton
2014-05-08T18:39:44+0000
Jordan Parry
Jordan Parry
2014-02-05T22:17:44+0000
Dot Riley
Dot Riley
2013-12-19T23:04:27+0000
Autum Foster
Autum Foster
2013-12-19T01:26:23+0000
Sabrina Lai
Sabrina Lai
2013-12-17T00:54:32+0000
Līga Ločmele
Līga Ločmele
2013-12-15T23:21:15+0000
Iain Scarlett
Iain Scarlett
2013-12-14T23:10:44+0000
Susan Bunnell
Susan Bunnell
2013-12-12T14:52:07+0000
Dave Stone
Dave Stone
2013-12-09T07:59:22+0000
Guy Annan
Guy Annan
2013-11-27T06:35:39+0000
Wyn Owen
Wyn Owen
2013-11-19T14:21:53+0000
Christine Brennan
Christine Brennan
2013-11-03T22:40:46+0000
Colin Dickinson
Colin Dickinson
2013-11-02T09:59:54+0000
Henry Hipps
Henry Hipps
2013-10-30T22:38:20+0000
Andy Guile
Andy Guile
2013-10-10T13:54:03+0000
Ged Wilmot
Ged Wilmot
2013-10-08T20:46:30+0000
Tony Lane
Tony Lane
2013-09-23T13:19:05+0000
Granit Gojnovci
Granit Gojnovci
2013-09-16T14:51:27+0000
Louisa Hayhurst
Louisa Hayhurst
2013-09-05T08:59:39+0000

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