A campaign to prevent road accident injuries and death involving young drivers has led to a Highlands and Moray MSP being recognised through a national safety award.
David Stewart MSP has been given the award by the road safety charity BRAKE and the Direct Line Group for his “tireless campaign” to introduce a Graduated Licence Scheme in Scotland.
A graduated driver licensing allows new drivers to build skills and experience gradually while being less exposed to danger. It sets a minimum learning period and imposes 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.
The scheme is already used in a number of countries most notably Australia, New Zealand and a number of US states. It is estimated it could save around 400 deaths and serious injuries each year if introduced in the UK.
Mr Stewart has been at the forefront of the campaign to introduce a pilot GDS in Scotland for the last five years.
The UK Transport Minister, Claire Perry, agreed in December to look at the issue if Mr Stewart provided her with his research, with the Government making use of that and responding with their own proposals.
Meanwhile the MSP has been gathering support, including by meeting with the Head of Roads Policing in Scotland, Superintendent Iain Murray, in January 2015.
Mr Stewart also launched a scheme called the Progressive Teen Driver Agreement in 2014, an initiative 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.
BRAKE is a road safety charity that offers extensive information and advice as well as campaigning for greater road safety measures in Scotland.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of the charity, 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 Stewart 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.
“He 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.”
After accepting the award – which he had previously won in 2010 – Mr Stewart 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 road collisions involving young people on our roads and of course one of these collisions, is just 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 that up to £80 million could be saved to the Scottish Economy and up to 22 lives per year could also be saved, if a Graduated Licence was introduced in Scotland alone.
“I wish to thank BRAKE and Direct Line Insurance 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.”