‘With new laws my daughter would still be alive...’

Maxine Ashworth with a picture of their daughter Elysia Ashworth, who died last year in a car crash
Maxine Ashworth with a picture of their daughter Elysia Ashworth, who died last year in a car crash
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A grieving mum whose teenage daughter was killed when her friend crashed her car has backed proposals for restrictions on newly-qualified young drivers.

Maxine Ashworth (pictured) says her daughter Elysia, 17, would still be alive today if one of the ideas – a ban on carrying young passengers – had been in force before the fatal collision almost four years ago.

Elysia, was a rear passenger in the Vauxhall Corsa being driven by her friend Naomi Jones, 19. Naomi lost control of the car on Division Lane, Marton, after hitting two bumps before colliding with a tree.

Elysia suffered multiple injuries in the collision on July 11, 2011 and died two days later.

The new proposals, which are backed by organisations including the Association of British Insurers and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), would place restrictions on drivers aged 17-24 in a bid to reduce the number of accidents they are currently involved in.

For the first six months after passing their test, unsupervised drivers would not be allowed to carry passengers under a certain age, except immediate family members.

There would be a one-year minimum learning period including a system of graduated drivers’ licensing whereby initial restrictions on night-time, expressway and unsupervised driving would gradually be lifted over time.

Black boxes could be fitted to enable parents to monitor driving, including speed and the drink driving limit would be cut from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to just 20mg.

Mrs Ashworth, of Ulverston Crescent, St Annes, said: “Any idea which helps to reduce the number of accidents involving young drivers has to be a good one.

“If the rule around carrying young passengers had been in place four years ago Elysia would not have been in the car. She would still be here now.

“I do think there should be more supervision for drivers who have just passed their test because as soon at they have that licence a lot of the young ones are off being silly.

“I hope that these proposals are adopted and help to reduce accidents. They have to be better than doing nothing.”

Mrs Ashworth added that she believed the legal driving age should also be raised, “maybe to 19” and that new drivers should have to “sit down and look at mangled people being cut out of cars”.

She said that tougher prison sentences for people who admitted causing death by careless or dangerous driving could also be a deterrent for others . Naomi Jones, who passed her test four months before the fatal crash, received a six month sentence in a Young Offender’s Institute after she admitted causing Elysia’s death.

“I’m still extremely angry and trying to understand why Elysia is not here any more, said Mrs Ashworth.

“I think about it every day.”

Terry Godbert, chairman of Blackpool and Fylde Advanced Motorists, said: “It’s a good idea to have some restrictions in place, including on the type of roads people can drive on.

“I think people are still learning to drive for around four years after they pass their test and around 98 per cent of collisions are caused by driver error - they are not accidents.

“However, I think that young people should not be able to take a full driving test until they are 18 and I believe the alcohol limit should be zero for at least two years.

“Even the smallest amount of alcohol can affect driving.”

But John Guest, chairman of the Blackpool and District Approved Driving Instructors Association, said he had mixed feelings about the proposals.

“I think ‘graduated’ licences are a good idea and they are already used in countries like Australia,” he said.

“On the face of it, ideas like not carrying other young people in a car sound attractive but how are you going to police it? With things like restrictions on night-time driving, what about people who work night shifts?”

A total of 131 young drivers aged 17-24 were killed on UK roads in 2013, while 1,159 were left with serious injuries.

They account for about 20 per cent of all road deaths.