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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 11:18 GMT

UK Politics

Top Gear too fast for MPs

Police could be given powers to demand to see driving licences

Car adverts and television programmes have been criticised by MPs for being "irresponsible" and "too macho" by encouraging fast driving.

The Commons Environment, Transport and the Regional Affairs Select Committee said too many films and television programmes portrayed car chases which "suggest there is virtue in driving too quickly".

Among the programmes highlighted in the report, entitled Young and Newly-Qualified Drivers, was BBC Two's Top Gear.

'Macho posturing'

The MPs said: "Driving programmes such as Top Gear appear obsessed with acceleration and speed: their producers should remember that such macho posturing might be acceptable on private roads but not on crowded streets."

[ image: Jeremy Clarkson: Encouraging 'macho posturing']
Jeremy Clarkson: Encouraging 'macho posturing'
The report said too many adverts featured cars being driven at high speed and proposed the government try to prevent irresponsible campaigns.

It said: "We recommend that the government consult with advertisers, as well as motor manufacturers, to ensure that irresponsible advertising of cars is ended."

The report said young and newly qualified drivers were putting themselves and others at risk because of low driving standards caused by inexperience, lower levels of technical competence and "resultant lesser road sense".

It called for the national curriculum to include lessons on driving and the consequences of having an accident.

The report also proposed tougher penalties for people caught driving without a licence.

A recent survey suggested there may be up to 800,000 people now on the road illegally without a full licence.

Attitude to driving

The report also called for the government to re-examine whether it should be made mandatory to carry your licence while driving and whether the police should be given new powers to demand it be shown to them.

It suggested a minimum period of at least six months between obtaining a provisional licence and taking a driving test.

The MPs added: "Although such measures will improve the safety standards of young and newly-qualified drivers we are concerned that their effect will prove to be marginal unless dramatic changes are made to their attitude to driving.

"We therefore urge the government to take the radical steps we have proposed in respect of education, advertising and the media which will, we believe, help to ensure that young people see driving simply as a means of transport rather than a form of self-expression."

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