Comment: Educating young drivers is essential

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almost two years after the tragic crash which killed young Josh James-Stewart and his 
 friends David Armstrong and Jenna Barbour, the emotional wounds that remain are all too evident.

Josh’s mum, Susan, will be far from alone in struggling to cope with such a devastating loss. That will be part of the daily reality of life for the family and friends of all three of the teenagers killed in the terrible crash at Tyninghame in East Lothian in November 2013.

Other families suffering such loss have been at the forefront of Ms Stewart’s mind as she faces up to life without her only son. The sad fact is that young people account for a disproportionate number of the 200 deaths on Scotland’s roads each year. Many more are seriously injured.

While road accident rates are generally improving, crashes involving inexperienced young drivers are becoming a bigger problem, particularly as more powerful cars become more affordable. Fewer than one in 12 licence holders is under 25 years old, yet one in five fatal and serious injury crashes involve a driver this age. Often the victims are young people themselves, with road crashes being the biggest killer of young people in the UK and worldwide.

Getting the road safety message across to young drivers can be a challenge. Road safety experts believe it is not just inexperience but a natural tendency among many young people to take risks that makes them particularly vulnerable on the road. Ms Stewart has been campaigning alongside the charity Brake for stricter controls to be adopted in this country to help make young people safer on our roads. Surely the time has come to consider ideas like graduated licences which force newly qualified drivers to build up their experience before taking on certain types of motoring.

And educating young drivers about the risks they face is essential. Ensuring that is a fitting tribute to Josh and his friends.