Young drivers could be banned from carrying passengers except family members under government proposals aimed at cutting the road death toll - and shielding them from the potentially lethal effects of peer-group pressure.
But savvy parents now believe that the secret of safer driving lies closer to home: they're going "back to school" with their children, so
Roads Ahead Driving School, are offering parents two hours of specialist coaching at a cost of £70. During the session their driving is closely analysed by Stuart an approved driving instructor under their "Support Your Child to Drive" scheme.
During the two hours, your driving will initially be assessed and any 'bad habits' or dangerous driving, which would mean an instant fail on a driving test would be identified and corrected.
Parents are taught what the driving test examiner will be looking for before he can issue a pass, and are also valuable coaching techniques they can apply in informal, one-to-one lessons with their offspring.
"When I took my driving test I had a small number of lessons with an instructor but most of my driving was done with my parents. I was fortunate to pass first time. But today the test is far more stringent and tougher road conditions and much busier roads really require lots of professional tuition with the 'back-up' of plenty of 'private practice', says Stuart Yeowart, a Driving & Vehicle Standards Agency Approved Driving Instructor.
"You need to know what the examiners are looking for such as positioning on the road, how to move off and stop correctly and safely, how to carry out a verbal commentary on the road ahead and so on. The problem facing parents, is that the L-test has changed beyond recognition in the past decade and certainly since many parents first took to the road. It has put driving tuition beyond the capabilities of most amateur instructors, no matter how well intentioned".
This is underlined by official figures showing that on average learners need about 48 hours of professional tuition with an approved driving instructor, accompanied by 20 hours of private practice as they learn how to control the car and read the road ahead.
Critics say that with 17- to 24-year-olds responsible for a disproportionately high number of crashes, this is only right. The Association of British Insurers says an 18-year-old is more than three times as likely as a 48-year-old to be involved in a crash, and a third of drivers killed in car accidents are under 25.
The test now comprises of "show and tell" questions at the beginning. There is an element of 'independent driving' where the candidate has to follow a Sat Nav or road signs, which more closely resembles everyday driving. Examiners also look at the candidates' "eco" driving style, making it a completely different test to the one experienced by those who passed their test years ago. You will also be asked one 'Show Me' question whilst out on test.
"The standard of the test has improved dramatically," says Stuart. "There were a lot of things you could get away with five years ago which would get you failed now. It's great that parents want to teach their children but they have to teach them correctly. Positioning and signalling at roundabouts must be correct, (which in Chesterfield is an art form), you have to negotiate different road layouts, town centre and country roads, narrow roads, dual carriageways all with speed limits varying from 20mph to 70mph, and making progress where it is safe to do so. People have failed for going to slow.
The way people are taught to drive today is completely different from when I took my test in 1977".