Work and play drivers

Greater Manchester Police Vauxhall Astra
Image via Flickr

More moves to reduce appalling road collision statistics…

In a week where the government are considering changes and restrictions on young drivers, it appears police driving standards are also in the spotlight… 

It has been reported by the BBC that; research at Cardiff University has revealed that young drivers between 17-19yrs need to be subjected to a “graduated driver licensing” system. They say this will save some 200 lives and result in 1,700 fewer serious injuries each year.

Public Sector News: “Although the ban would be difficult for police to enforce, there are similar schemes operating in Australia, New Zealand and some North American states”. (

Meanwhile Supt Alan Greene, the former head of the Greater Manchester Police Traffic Section, told his peers at the Police Superintendent’s Association Annual Conference; “more people had died last year following police pursuits than had died in custody or during firearms incidents”.

After 30yrs dealing with the aftermath of serious collisions on our Nation’s roads, I more than most, can fully appreciate all the issues. Apart from the injuries, death and the emotional impact upon relatives, there are also massive financial implications. For every fatality on our roads, it costs the public purse something in the region of £1m in medical and investigation costs etc.

Whether or not the proposals for young drivers will actually be workable remains to be seen. In areas of the country like North Yorkshire, preventing young drivers from using their vehicles after dark will be problematical. Apart from effectively imposing a curfew on them, due to lack of public transport facilities etc, there is also the issue of limited police resources to enforce the conditions.

Moving on to the police driver training issue, as a police trained advanced driver, the decline in standards of police drivers over recent years appalls me. Much of this is due to cost cutting measures, along with the limited opportunities for continued and progressive driver training in the service. Most officers appear to receive little more than very basic instruction these days. I’m even aware of cases where police recruits are allowed to drive police vehicles as soon as they join the service. Just so long as they have the normal licence available to the public, they actually receive no further training.

This factor in it self is probably instrumental in the woefully high number of police vehicle collisions today. It must also have an impact upon the associated complaints about officer driving standards.

If we agree there is a problem with newly qualified driver training standards, right across the board in the UK, doesn’t it also follow that, as police recruits reflect society, their driving abilities are already at a poor level when they join the service? More reason to improve the quality and availability of police driver training!

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