Driving test age rise plea

Death scene: Elizabeth Cornwell was killed on Waterloo Road
Death scene: Elizabeth Cornwell was killed on Waterloo Road
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A driving expert has called for the age at which people can take their test to rise after new figures showed an increase in the number of deaths and serious injuries on Blackpool’s roads.

Terry Godbert, chairman of the Blackpool and Fylde Institute of Advanced Motorists, spoke out after figures showed the number of people killed in the Blackpool Council area doubled from two in 2012 to four last year. The number of serious injuries rose from 52 to 69, but a reduction in the number of slight injury collisions saw the total number of incidents fall from 619 to 582.

The situation mirrored that in the Lancashire County Council area. In Wyre, which includes Fleetwood, Thornton, Cleveleys and Poulton, the number of deaths rose from three to five and serious injuries increased from 52 to 69. In Fylde, which includes Lytham and St Annes, there were no deaths last year, down from two in 2012, but the number of serious injuries rose from 28 to 48.

Nationally, there were 1,713 deaths on the roads in 2013, a two per cent reduction. Serious and slight injury incidents each fell by six per cent.

Mr Godbert said that while young people should be able to start driving aged 17, he believed they should not be able to take a provisional test until they were 18. If they passed this, they would then have to take another test after a year to secure a full licence.

“It’s good that the total number of incidents in Blackpool has fallen but I’m very disappointed by the increase in the number of deaths and serious injuries,” he said.

“That is not bad luck, it’s bad driving, because 98 per cent are usually down to driver error, where people are driving too fast, inconsiderately or dangerously.”

Mr Godbert, who instructs drivers preparing for their advanced motoring test, added: “There are more cars on the roads now so people need to be concentrating more – but the quality of driving seems to have gone down.”

Fatalities in Blackpool last year included pedestrian Elizabeth Cornwell, from Dundee, who was involved in a collision with a Vauxhall Corsa on Waterloo Road on October 17.

Peter Dodd, from Blackpool, died after his Renault Clio collided head-on with another car at the Yeadon Way roundabout on September 25.

Cameron Barr, from Marton, was killed after his motorbike collided with a van on Newhouse Road on June 10.

Blackpool Council’s highways cabinet member, Coun John Jones, said it wanted to cut serious injury collisions and was dissuading drivers from using mobile phones through a Smartphone, Stupid Driver campaign.

Vali Birang, the county council’s head of sustainable transport and safety, said the number of people killed or seriously injured had reduced by 26 per cent based on an average of 873 from 2005-2009.

Mr Birang added that the council was working to cut casualties through campaigns for young drivers, speed awareness courses and practical training for older drivers.