Death crash prompts calls for new driver restrictions
A coroner yesterday formally requested a lower speed limit for new drivers and compulsory 'P' plates after a teenager died in a speeding car driven by her boyfriend.
Coroner Michael Rose said drivers who have just passed their test should be made to have the special plates – which are currently only optional.
He added that new drivers should be restricted to speeds of 50mph or 60mph when travelling on 60mph and 70mph roads, for a period of a year.
Mr Rose, coroner for West Somerset, made his recommendation after an inquest into the death of Bethany-Paige Adams.
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The 17-year-old was a passenger in a car driven by her boyfriend Charlie Blandford-Corp, now 18, who had passed his driving test two-and-a half months earlier.
Blandford-Corp, of Minehead, was driving a Citroen Saxo car at speeds of up to 80mph on the A358 when he struck a tree near Crowcombe on January 7 last year.
He had previously told Bethany's mother that he would "drive carefully" – but his girlfriend was killed instantly.
Mr Rose has now issued a statement calling for the Government to introduce a lower speed limit for new drivers and has written to the Secretary of State for Transport.
He also said people who had just passed their test should be made to put a green 'P' plate on their car to let other drivers know they are inexperienced.
The coroner said if new drivers failed to adhere to the new laws, they should have six points added to their licence.
Mr Rose said: ''I held an inquest into the death of Bethany-Paige Adams, a 17-year-old girl who was killed near Williton, when the car in which she was a passenger and driven by a 17-year-old recently qualified driver, went out of control, the accident being caused by excessive speed.
"Following the inquest, I stated that I would consider making a request to the Minster of Transport to compel recently qualified drivers to carry a distinguishing letter on the car they were travelling in and to restrict their speed to 50mph on open roads and 60mph on motorways, for a period of one year, and to enforce the law to consider imposing an obligatory six points penalty, meaning that if a driver was twice in breach of such regulations he or she would be banned from driving.
"I did, however, state that I would first write to the Department of Transport to ascertain the extent of the problem, and in particular find out how many accidents were caused by recently qualified drivers.
"Despite their assistance I have been unable to obtain such figures and wonder if they are kept – although the statistics for 17 to 23-year-old drivers reveal a large number of fatal and serious accidents.
"It is hoped the Minster will accept my recommendations which, in themselves are not revolutionary, but bring in restrictions that are already in place in a number of advanced nations."
The inquest in October into Bethany-Paige's death heard that a few weeks before she had told her boyfriend to slow down. He admitted causing death by careless driving and was given an 18-month driving ban and suspended jail term.