Police commissioner says online toolkit for young drivers is ‘good investment’

Chief Constable, Alec Wood, and Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite

Chief Constable, Alec Wood, and Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Archant

More than £60,000 has been allocated to developing an online learning tool kit for young drivers.

Taken forward by police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, Drive iQ is a web-based programme which works by generating a virtual experience of different driving situations.

The programme is designed to help youngsters become safer drivers once they’ve passed their test.

The tool kit has been made possible, thanks to a £67,000 grant from the Road Safety Casualty Reduction and Support Fund – something which, according to one of its conditions, must be spent on accident prevention.

“If people go out on a driver awareness course, the surplus we get from that we can use to reinvest,” Mr Ablewhite said.

“We can’t use it for policing, that’s the law, but we can use it for educational means.

“There are far too many on our roads who are getting seriously hurt and, in extreme cases, being killed because they’re taking risks unnecessarily.”

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Responding to concerns that the money would be better spent else-where, Mr Ablewhite also said that even if the money was allowed to put be into frontline policing, that it would only be enough to provide 1.5 more officers a year.

“I’m getting behind this because we’ve got to get behind new technology. Technology is the means through which our young people communicate,” he added.

“It’s no good the naysayers saying to spend it on this or that – actually our young people are the prevention element of the future, and until we start getting to the prevention agenda we’re not going to make it better for the future.”

In total, young drivers, those aged 17-25, make up about 25 per cent of casualties in

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. In 2011, there were four fatal young driver casualties, with another six in 2013.

The tool kit will be delivered to schools and colleges across the county by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership later this year.

Mr Ablewhite said: “The difference between this computer programme and many others out there is that it’s bespoke so will use local streets and look as though you’re driving behind the wheel in an area that you’ll be very familiar with.

“It helps teach them [young drivers] to be aware, aware of the dangers, and aware of those risks before they get out and start learning to drive in the first place. It

also helps them with road safety generally,” he added.