Highland MSP wins national road safety award for campaign to save young lives

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Brake, the road safety charity

David Stewart, MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for his tireless campaign to prevent young driver crashes and save lives by introducing a graduated driver licence scheme in Scotland.

Graduated driver licensing allows new drivers to build skills and experience gradually while less exposed to danger, by setting a minimum learning period and imposing restrictions on newly-qualified drivers, such as a night-time curfew and limit on carrying young passengers, for a period after passing the driving test.

Graduated driver licensing is used in a number of other countries including Australia, New Zealand, and many US states, and it is estimated it could save 400 deaths and serious injuries a year if used in the UK [1]. David Stewart has been at the forefront of the campaign to introduce graduated driver licensing here since 2010.

In December 2014, David travelled to London and met with transport minister Claire Perry MP, to make the case for a pilot graduated driver licence scheme in Scotland. The minister asked David to provide her with his research on the issue, which the government will make use of to respond with their own proposals.

In the meantime, David has been gathering support, including by meeting with the head of roads policing in Scotland, Superintendent Iain Murray, in January 2015.

To complement his call for graduated driver licensing, David also launched a scheme called the Progressive Teen Driver Agreement in 2014. This initiative is designed to get parents and teenage drivers to agree on how they will behave behind the wheel – and the consequences if they break the agreement.

Beyond young driver issues, David has established a reputation as a leading all-round road safety campaigner, raising awareness on issues from tyre safety and winter driving to mobile phone use and driver eyesight, including through Brake’s annual Road Safety Week campaign.

Graduated driver licensing is one of Brake’s key manifesto calls for the 2015 general election, and an integral part of the charity’s too young to die campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #tooyoungtodie.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Young people are being killed and seriously injured at a shocking rate on roads across the UK, and young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of serious road crashes. Graduated driver licensing is a tried and tested way of tackling the problem, yet Westminster has repeatedly stalled on progressing the decisive changes we need to our learning to drive system, as more young lives are being lost. David has been a wonderful champion for the cause, and we hope that with his continued hard work, Scotland can set an example for the rest of the UK on young driver safety. David is a passionate and dedicated road safety campaigner, and we are pleased to recognise this by making him our road safety parliamentarian of the month.”

Accepting his award, David Stewart, MSP for the Highlands and Islands and Shadow Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “I am delighted on behalf of my team, to accept this award which is recognition of the hard work we have all put into making our roads safer. It is a sad fact that there is a high proportion of serious and fatal collisions involving young people on our roads, and of course one of these collisions is one too many. I have been working closely with Dr Sarah Jones of Cardiff University, who carried out 10 years of study into road collisions in Scotland and Wales. Her studies found up to 22 lives and £80 million could be saved per year if a graduated licence was introduced in Scotland alone. I want to work with our partners and young people to come up with solution to make our roads safer for all.”

“I want to thank Brake and Direct Line for acknowledging the commitment and drive my team and I have put into road safety related issues over the years and I know that all involved with me in my various road safety campaigns will be delighted with this award as recognition of their efforts.”

Notes for editors


Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Follow Brake on Twitter or Facebook. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by UK Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England No 1179980. UK Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc. Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0845 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com.

End notes

[1] Graduated Driver Licensing: A regional analysis of potential casualty savings in Great Britain , RAC Foundation, 2014

Tags: awards parliamentarian directline