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Bill aims to make first aid compulsory for UK drivers

8 March 2016

A new Bill is being debated in Parliament today which could result in all new drivers being required to learn first aid.

The private members bill is being tabled by Conservative MP Will Quince under the ten minute rule and is supported by the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance. 

It would require those learning to drive to attend a four-hour practical first aid course as part of receiving a driving licence.

Risk on the roads

In the last 12 months, 1,780 people have been killed on British roads and a total of 23,700 were killed or seriously injured (Source: Department for Transport). 

A survey by St John Ambulance found that 59 per cent of the British public wouldn’t feel confident enough to save a life at the scene of an accident. Around 24 per cent would do nothing until an ambulance arrived or a passer-by who knew first aid appeared. 

Oxford-based Helen Cowan recently saved the life of a 19-year-old motorist involved in an accident outside her home. Unlike other motorists on the scene, 

Helen knew first aid due to her experience as a nurse and from completing a Red Cross course. By applying pressure to the man’s badly injured leg, she managed to control the bleeding. 

"As a nurse myself I can see how vital it is for car drivers to be trained in first aid. If more people are trained in first aid, then more people will have the skills and the confidence to step forward and potentially save a life,” Helen said.

Thousands could benefit

The Bill would ensure motorists were equipped with basic first aid skills which could help save thousands of lives each year. This would not only be on Britain's roads, but in a range of emergency situations. 

Many other European nations already include first aid as a mandatory requirement for obtaining a driving licence, such as Switzerland and Germany. 

Joe Mulligan, British Red Cross head of first aid education, said: 

"Where someone is seriously injured or fighting for their lives, every second counts. It is vital that the first person on the scene of a road traffic accident – who will most likely be another driver – knows how to keep someone alive. Just knowing how to roll an unconscious but breathing casualty onto their side and lift their chin can be all it takes to save a life.” 

Around 63 per cent of the population aged between 21 and 29 have a driving licence. If that figure remains steady, within around 13 years this proposal would help to ensure nearly two thirds of the people under the age of 30 in Britain would be educated in first aid.

What happens next

The majority of private members bills tabled using the Ten Minute Rule will be allowed to progress to the register of parliamentary business for a second reading and full debate at a later date.

  • Follow the discussion on Twitter using that hashtag #drive4firstaid

Update 09/03/2016

The Bill is scheduled for a second reading and we will continue working on this issue with MPs over the coming months. 

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