The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has called for new legislation for young drivers saying; “drivers aged 17-24 are responsible for a disproportionately high number of crashes, deaths and claims (see here)…
Amongst the ABI proposals it is suggested that young drivers be banned from driving between 11:00pm and 4:00am…
A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving. Improving the safety of young drivers will also mean that they will face lower motor insurance costs…(Otto Thoresen, Director General ABI)
This recent news brings me to raise another ongoing and partly related problem, one that is increasingly impacting upon families, our communities, the health & social welfare framework of our society and not least, policing, the emergency services and other public agencies. I refer to the growth of our so-called night-time economy.
Now I’m not suggesting for one moment that it’s wrong to be able to eat, drink or shop at 1am (or later) if that’s what you want (or need) to do. Far from it. Having worked strange shifts all my life, the convenience of being able to shop and/or socialise after work, irrespective of the time would (often) have been advantageous.
But despite the convenience factor, the night-time economy also has many (mostly) unseen negative impacts upon our society. As a result of many of our young people having no job to go to during the day, they have no reason to get out of bed in the morning. Because they don’t have to get up and have loafed around until midday or the afternoon, they’re not tired and consequently go to bed later. Going to bed later and later means they get up later in the day and this progressive shift in the ‘normal’ day means their active time gets later in the day and runs into the night.
Before too long it’s sleep all day and play all night for our young people. Consequently, there is less and less opportunity for meaningful interaction between kids and their parents. No time for parental guidance or chastisement and remedial rebuff for wrong doing. I’ll bet that in some families, both sides of the age divide will see this as an absolutely positive bonus for their domestic circumstances.
Before long a large number of our kids are sleeping all day and playing all night. They’re drinking (or consuming other substances), noisily enjoying themselves and driving around looking for fun and something to do. Often this ‘something’ is either anti-social or criminal, mostly at the expense of others but often in their eyes, seen as just having a bit of fun.
As a consequence of all this, increasing numbers of people, of many age ranges but mostly young, are at a loose end in the wee small hours. Expectedly, there is also an increase in the number of commercial organisations trying to tap into the spare money that may be available to bolster their profit margins. Bars stay open longer and fast food outlets serve later, not just at the weekends.
All this has an impact upon not only the people who reside in our communities but also, the public service agencies such as; the police, the ambulance service, hospital A&E departments within the NHS and our local authorities. All these public bodies are tasked with clearing up the mess society gets itself into. It’s often mostly a thankless task but it is also an expensive one, one that impacts upon nearly all of us as the taxpayer continually foots the bill.
There was a time when drunken yobs only disturbed my sleep once or twice a week as they lager waltzed their way past my door in the early morning. Now this disturbance occurs on several nights during the week; shouting, swearing and drunken disputes, all accompanied by loud music from mobile phones and mp3 players is evident well into the night and towards dawn.
Boom boom boom music blasts out from every other hot-hatch with a dodgy bucket exhaust that is passing by, or more likely, attempting the fastest 1/4 mile standing start from the nearby traffic lights. The silence of the night is shattered by the screech of tyres struggling to gain traction and vehicle audible warning systems being sounded, either as a friendly greeting to some knob without wheels or simply, played in time to some rapper who wants to shag every bitch in sight after snorting his latest fix of must have moon dust.
There was a time when our police service would have been available to prevent this anti-social behaviour and/or deal with those breaking the law. Not so today, with shrinking budgets and the constant demands on an ever decreasing police presence, officers usually struggle to even meet the ever-increasing demands to respond to an ’emergency’ situation. Often that ’emergency’ isn’t one when they arrive however; the response demand often precludes any spare capacity for proactive or preventative policing.
This fact is now happily well-known to an increasing majority of our young people, the ones who have the time on their hands in the middle of the night to do what they will. One has to ask the question; why is it that our politicians and police leaders appear to have little or no cognisance of the situation?
It is possible (but unlikely) that many of them don’t but more worryingly, a proportion of them do and, for one reason or another, they chose to do very little about it. They justify their reasoning with dodgy manipulated statistics, produce endless demand profiles and all manner of resource availability studies. And all this is dressed up in fluffy risk-management strategies based upon financial constraint. Meanwhile the public they are there to serve are suffering and mostly in silence. Here in lays the problem; too many of us are either not inclined to complain or too afraid to do so.
Many members of the public who have valid concerns about issues that impact upon them are simply unable to voice that concern. The reasons are probably many fold but will often include reasons such as; being ‘worried’ about ‘bothering’ an already ‘busy’ police force with a ‘trivial’ matter or, they simply fear the reprisals from those responsible for the matter being complained about.
Increasingly older people are confining themselves to the relative security of their homes during the hours of darkness, whilst our unemployed, often feral youth, are free to roam at will with impunity searching for their next cheep thrill. That’s all well and good until the ‘idle hands’ start making ‘light work’ of relieving us old(er) codgers of our last remaining bits of solitude and security. This constant quest for ‘thrills’ to relieve ‘boredom’ is, unfortunately, mostly at the expense of someone else.
Young drivers may well be “responsible for a disproportionately high number of crashes, deaths and claims” but I also wonder; how many of our senior citizens have they finished off with their behaviour?
When you consider all of the above and then add the confusion which abounds in today’s political and financial climate; i.e. Which agency or department holds the remit (and budget) to tackle a given problem in modern policing methods? You start to understand why there is a growing gap between the public and the police.
If our public services themselves have difficulty thrashing out these questions, what chance of the public having any real understanding about why they can’t get the help they want or need? This perpetual confusion is also one of the main reasons why those agencies so often escape retribution for not helping, or not wanting to help!
The latter issue is one that needs addressing urgently but also; the time has come for us to try to reverse the unsocial trends and demands of our ‘night-shift’ population!
- Young people should spend a year learning to drive (telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘One year to pass driving test’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Special report: a generation of young Londoners with no job, no prospects and no hope (standard.co.uk)