Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire

ALeadsomAndrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire, has been given a national road safety award by the charity Brake and Direct Line Group for her work campaigning alongside a local bereaved family to improve young driver safety.

Rebecca Taylor, aged 18, from Northampton, died in September 2008, after she dropped her sister off at school. Rebecca was driving home along Northampton Road when she hit surface water on the road and lost control of her car. After narrowly missing two other vehicles, Rebecca clipped a curb and spun into the path of a car travelling the other way.

After her death, the family began campaigning for improvements to young driver safety, crash investigation and rural road safety, and they contacted Andrea to ask her to help promote these issues in Parliament.

The family first met with Andrea on 10 September 2010 at her advice surgery. It was the day after the second anniversary of Beccy's death and the family were understandably fragile. The Taylors had been disappointed by the results of the police investigation into their daughter's death and wanted to campaign to help prevent other families suffering tragedies. Following the meeting, Andrea wrote to then Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, who arranged for the family to meet then Road Safety Minister Mike Penning in May 2011.

Andrea continued to work alongside Beccy's family, organising a meeting with new Road Safety Minister Robert Goodwill in October 2013. They discussed the issue of young driver safety in greater detail and asked the government to implement a full system of 'graduated driver licensing' in its anticipated Green Paper on young drivers.

Graduated driver licensing is a system advocated by Brake that has been introduced in several other countries. It typically involves a minimum 12 month learning period, and restrictions in the first year after passing your test, such as a late night driving curfew, a ban on carrying young passengers and zero tolerance drink drive limit, to reduce exposure to risky situations. It is evidenced to reduce crashes and casualties involving young drivers, and is predicted to prevent 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries a year if implemented in the UK [1].

Inspired by the Taylor family, Andrea has pledged to continue to work hard to ensure their proposals are heard by government, and will continue to discuss the issue with ministers and campaign through the media.

Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, said: "The suffering endured by Beccy's family is horrendous, and something no family should have to go through. Yet sadly, it is not uncommon. Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of road crashes, and young people themselves are often the tragic victims. Andrea's efforts to champion this issue is commendable, and she has shown real determination in ensuring the Taylors are heard. Her support is further recognition of the compelling case for action on young driver safety, particularly reform of our licensing system. We are urging the government to act swiftly and decisively, by committing to a full system of graduated driver licensing, to prevent further needless loss of young lives."

Nicole Taylor, Beccy's mum said: "We honestly can't thank Andrea enough for her unwavering support and guidance over the past five years. That's why we're proud to nominate her for this award. We often think about what we could have done to equip Beccy more fully. She was a good driver, but inexperienced. Graduated driver licensing would help protect young, newly-qualified drivers as it tackles many of the common causes of young road deaths. With Andrea's support we will continue to campaign on young driver safety and ensure our proposals are heard."

Andrea Leadsom, MP for South Northamptonshire: "As an MP I am in a privileged position to be able to raise vital issues like the safety of young drivers and I am pleased to have been able to do so on behalf of the Taylors. I am delighted to accept this award from Brake and look forward to continuing to work with the Taylors to campaign to make our roads safer and prevent further tragedies involving young people."

End notes:
[1] Restricting young drivers, The University of Cardiff, 2010


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