The Big Debate

Does pre-driver training for the under-17s make for safer young, newly qualified drivers?

The motoring journalist, author, TV presenter and campaigner Quentin Willson and Professor Frank McKenna will each deliver presentations, after which the audience will have the chance to question both presenters – with a ‘before and after’ vote giving an indication as to whether opinions have changed as a result of the debate.

Professor Frank McKenna

Professor McKenna obtained his BSc. from the University of Glasgow and his Ph.D. in Psychology from University College London after which he spent six years at the Medical Research Council Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge.

He then worked as a Senior Psychologist for the Royal Air Force.  He joined Reading University where he was appointed as Lecturer, then Reader and then Professor of Psychology.

One major research area has been on anticipation in skilled behaviour such as sport and driving. He has been on the editorial boards of the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology and the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

He has worked with the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) and has sat on the advisory boards for both RoSPA and the AA Foundation for Road Safety and served on the British Psychological Society working party on Fitness To Drive.

He has been a member of the Management and Executive committees of the European Society for Traffic Psychologists and has provided policy advice to the Economic and Social Research Council, the Department for Transport and several governments. He has given talks on human error around the world and has run a consultancy company for more than 15 years.

Quentin Willson

Quentin Willson has been campaigning for better novice driver tuition for 20 years.  He’s presented evidence to Government Select Committees, lobbied the Department for Transport and Government ministers and had questions tabled in the House of Commons.

He was patron of the ADI Joint National Council, compered The Prince Michael Road Safety Awards and has appeared on BBC Breakfast, ITV Good Morning Britain and many other radio and TV shows arguing for more support for hazard awareness and driving tuition in schools.

He created the TV format Britain’s Worst Driver which has been sold in 14 international territories – Canada’s Worst driver is now on its 11th series.

A patron of the Young Driver organisation which has trained 500,000 young people, he believes that teaching children from the age of 11 about road awareness and below the dashboard driving technique embeds road safety messages better than the conventional route of lessons at 17 years.

He joined the original Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson back in 1989, appearing weekly on BBC 2 for 15 years. Quentin also created BBC2’s The Car’s The Star, channel, Five’s The Classic Car Show, writes a motoring column for Classic Cars Magazine and is the author of 10 best-selling motoring books.  His latest book, due for publication shortly, is a parents’ guide to teaching young people to drive.

He won Motoring Writer of the Year in 2004 and is a BAFTA film judge. Quentin’s father was a celebrated Bletchley Park code breaker during the Second World War and was the first to break the Italian version of the Enigma code in 1943.