The call ties in with a survey by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) which found only eight of 15 European countries had mandatory traffic education in schools.
Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain and Latvia all operate mandatory traffic education programmes. Meanwhile Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and the UK have voluntary programmes to teach children about road safety.
The IAM’s Road Safety Manifesto has ‘reducing young driver risk’ as one of its central aims; and the first part of that calls for road safety education to be part of the curriculum.
Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research, said:
“Unless it’s part of the curriculum, it won’t become part of a young person’s thinking and educators won’t be obliged to teach it. Other countries have teaching on road safety as part of primary and secondary education, so why should we not have it too?”
In Italy the primary school course is divided up into three parts; road safety including road rules, environment and health considerations. Public bodies such as the ACI (Automobile Club d’Italia) are encouraged by the government in Italy to deliver such courses to schools.
Latvia goes even further, requiring traffic skills to be tested after the third, sixth, ninth and 12th grades with age-appropriate tests including knowing your route to school, and to understand the responsibilities as a driver or cyclist on the road.
In Germany two years are dedicated to teaching children how to ride a bicycle in traffic, while in Poland rules applying to pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders are taught to youngsters at seven and 15 years old.
Although the numbers of people killed and injured on UK roads have been steadily decreasing for many years, the rate of decrease has been slowing down recently.
In 2013, 1,713 people were killed in road accidents, the lowest number on record, and half as many as in 2000. The total number of casualties of all severities in 2013 was 183,670.
The total reported child casalities (ages 0-15) fell by 9 per cent to 15,756 in 2013. The number of children killed or seriously injured also fell, decreasing by 13 per cent to 1,980 in 2013.
However pedestrians were the second highest casualty type by category.
Despite the fall in casualty numbers, the IAM has said the figures remain unacceptable and has repeatedly called for greater training and awareness to help deliver a further marked reduction.
“Some countries in Europe have very structured and well organised programmes aimed at young people through their time in education. With ambitious targets being set on reducing the numbers of young people killed and injured on our roads, we believe having road safety education as part of the National Curriculum is a sure way to achieving those aims.”