Education and training are key to good driving in Falkirk

Car crashes can be caused by driver error
Car crashes can be caused by driver error

A Forth Valley driving expert has urged the authorities to do more to improve driving after Falkirk was named as a bad-driving hotspot.

Angus Maciver, vice-president of the Forth Valley group of advanced motorists, said he was not completely surprised by the new figures released from Police Scotland.

A league table of bad-driving hotspot published in a national newspaper this week placed Falkirk as the fourth worst in Scotland, under Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway and Stirling.

Some experts have suggested that the area’s industrial location could have contributed to the 553 road traffic offences for every 10,000 people that took place in Falkirk last year.

The most common driving offence recorded in the area was speeding, followed by drivers not wearing seatbelts.

Also in the past 12 months, 643 motorists flouted the law by using their mobile phones, while 567 drivers ignored traffic signs and directions.

But Mr Maciver, whose group is affiliated with the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said drivers should also be looking at trying to improve or update their skills.

He said: “I was not surprised by these figures, although it was interesting to see that the Falkirk figure was so high.

“Ninety per cent of road issues are caused by people making mistakes.

“Driver error is the main problem, and this could be things like not looking probably at road junctions.

“Speeding is also a big problem. England and Wales have speeding-awareness courses, but we don’t have that in Scotland.”

Mr Maciver also believes that drivers’ age could be a factor.

He said: “There are problems with people who have just started to drive and there are a small number of drivers who drive aggressively in high-powered vehicles.

“They can be young males or females, and there is a poor attitude from some and a lack of discipline.

“We would like to see road safety education as a compulsory part of the curriculum, and we would also like to see a graduated driving licence over 12 months for passing the test.

“As it stands, if you pass your test, you are free to drive on high speed roads with no instruction or supervision, so more education and training are needed.

“There’s also been a lot of attention around older drivers, although older drivers tend to be safer as they driver slower.

“We think you are never too old to take an advanced driving course - our oldest was an 83-year-old man from Falkirk.”

The IAM, a road saftey charity, says it is dedicated to raising the standard of drivings by improving skills and raising awareness, and there are hundreds of groups across the country.

In Forth Valley, around 30 people a year take the course, and about 20 motorcyclists.

Mr Maciver said: “People get their driving licence after passing a basic test and they have that licence for the 20 to 60 years, and the majority never do any further training.

“The fact is that our roads are much busier now, and therefore the skills required to drive are greater.

“Observation is the critical skill in driving.”

The figures from Police Scotland reveal that Glasgow had the greatest number of incidents in the past year, with the fewest number of incidents occuring in East Renfrewshire.

Mr Maciver added: “Driving is the most dangerous thing we do on a daily basis, some don’t understand that.”