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The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I thank the Minister for giving way. He was good enough to mention my nodding agreement to issues around running a course in the Highlands. I will press him on that. Inverness is clearly a large enough centre to generate enough errant drivers, but I am interested in how these courses might be provided in north-west Scotland and in the four island groups. Would be possible to deliver such a course on a peripatetic basis? Would people from the Isle of Lewis who have managed to get themselves into this situation have to report to a centre in Inverness? Will Stornoway, for example, be a centre?
Lord Davies of Oldham: I cannot answer any of those points in detail. I used Inverness merely as an illustration; I was not quoting it as a centre. We are not
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so far down the road that I can give a list of centres. There is an awful lot of work to be done on it. However, I undertake to bear in mind what the noble Earl has said. I hoped to give that reassurance earlier to the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, who, I think, introduced the concept first. There should be some element of flexibility about the course, certainly with regard to its duration, because of those very factors. I gave that undertaking, and I take on board the points made.
Earl Attlee: I am grateful for the Minister's extremely helpful explanations. I accept that we are only starting the retraining schemes, but, if demand for driving instructors exceeded supply, would the Minister be content for the pay of driving instructors generally to rise? If it does not, we will not increase the supply of driving instructors.
I return to a point on the first amendment. Over time, one would hope to make the courses more generally available for people who have committed offences and are getting points. I hope that, between now and Report, the Minister will reflect on what we have talked about. There might be some in-between amendment that will take us to where we want to get ultimately. I would be happy to discuss the matter between now and Report to see whether we can reach some agreement. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
"( ) In subsection (1) (tests of competence to drive)
(a) after the word "requirement" insert ", has received first aid training";
(b) in paragraph (b) at end insert
"an applicant shall be considered to have received first aid training if on the date the application for the licence is made he has received the training prescribed by virtue of subsection (3) below"."
The noble Lord said: It has been evident throughout the passage of the Bill that there is strong cross-party support for the objective of increasing road safety and reducing casualties on the roads. At Second Reading, it was clear that there was support in all parts of the House for giving careful consideration to the introduction of a first aid component into the driving test. No fewer than six noble Lords spoke in favour of such a move. Amendments Nos. 113 and 115 would enable the introduction of a first aid requirement.
The introduction of a first aid component into our driving tests not only fits in with the intention of the Bill but would directly contribute to the aim of reducing casualties on roads in the UK. There are 10 deaths on our roads each day, and it is entirely right that our main focus must be on preventing accidents happening in the first place. However, we would be naive if we failed to acknowledge that accidents would continue to happen. It is incumbent on us to consider how many lives could be saved if those involved in an accident had basic first aid skills.
The simple fact is that the most common cause of death in a road accident is a blocked airway. Timing in such cases is crucial. It takes, on average, eight minutes for the emergency services to get to most urgent cases: it takes less than four minutes for a blocked airway to cause death. That gives us a stark example of how learning the most rudimentary first aidthat tilting the head back unblocks the airwaycan save lives. Research has shown that, in a significant proportion of road accidents, the victims sustained injuries that almost certainly led to their death. However, in cases in which death was not inevitable, up to 85 per cent of victims had an airway obstruction. If that had been dealt with at the scene, many of those people would have survived.
Putting first aid in the driving test will target the right group: young people. Drivers under the age of 29 make up more than a third of those involved in accidents. Drivers between 17 and 20 are six times more likely to be involved in a collision that causes injury than drivers over 40. That is why the driving test is an ideal time to learn the basic life skills of first aid.
Let us be clear on what we mean by learning first aid. We are not trying to turn our nation into paramedics overnight. We are talking about basic skills that are easy to learn and easy to teach. Simple techniques, as I said, such as tilting the head back to unblock an airway or raising a bleeding arm and applying pressure are skills that are easily picked up in a matter of a few hours and are simple to remember. Those skills could also save lives.
People who learn first aid are more likely to know their limitations and understand what they should not do, such as removing a motorcyclist's helmet unnecessarily if he or she is likely to have sustained head injuries. So the benefits are numerous. It is important that we also understand that we would not be requiring people to administer first aid. The amendment certainly does not introduce any obligation whatever for people to attend those with injuries. However, what a terrible shame it would be
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for people who could helpfor example, to tilt a head back in order to enable someone to breathenot to know that one simple skill that could save lives.
Noble Lords have also raised the issue of liability. I am happy to report, even in this increasingly litigious society, that there is no case law whatever to support the idea that you can be sued for being a Good Samaritan. By giving first aid to a person, you owe them a duty of care to carry out that first aid in accordance with your knowledge, training and experience. It is highly unlikely that a successful claim could be made against you for trying to help an injured person.
Clearly, the implementation of a first aid requirement would need to be phased in, just as the requirement for first aid qualified people in the workplace was phased in. The DVLA should not have any dealings with the delivery of first aid training. The most practical solution is the presentation of an accredited first aid certificate in order to fill that requirement. With more than 1,000 approved "first aid at work" providers in the UK, that seems entirely practical. The structures in place for first aid certificates at work through the Health and Safety Executive give a model of how that could be achieved and, indeed, could be used to administer training.
The case for introducing first aid as part of the driving test is incredibly strong. On passing the driving test in the UK, you are allowed to be in charge of a machine that can cause injury and death. Clearly, taking just a few hours to learn how to save a life in the event of an accident does not seem unreasonable. It sounds like common sense. I hope that the Minister will respond in detail to this amendment and will give the Government's intentions on first aid provisions in the Bill. I beg to move.
Lord Bradshaw: I support the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, has described the situation well. I will not go on to elaborate it very much, except to say that there are now plenty of interactive-type methods of training. A person can sit at a computer and go through the simple requirements, such as stopping bleeding, clearing airways, and the things that one should not dofor example, if a person's back is obviously injured, he or she should not be moved. That can be taught relatively easily by simple interactive means, as well as by attending courses.
I do not accept the arguments that we heard in Grand Committee about not wishing to make the driving test more complicated. By taking a driving test, a person is committing himself to going on the roads, mixing with a lot of traffic and driving straightaway at high speeds on motorways. Before doing so, it is incumbent on a person who will be in charge of a dangerous machine to do something to equipment himself should he be in the unfortunate position of being involved in an accident.
The department could talk to the Red Cross, St John Ambulance and various other organisations quickly to put together a package that can be added to the theory
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test, which drivers would have to undergo, so that they would be competent to deal with a situation with which we hope they will not be faced, but probably will. Of course, first aid training would be very useful in other walks of life, not just if a person is involved in a road accident. I support the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, and hope that the Minister can respond positively, if not now, when the Bill comes back on Report.
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