Young Driver Safety – Focus Group Results (Department for Transport, June 2014)
This 94 page report (research debrief) gives the results of focus groups concerned with the safety of young drivers.
The report’s introduction makes clear the fact that young drivers are both a key issue (ie young people – particularly male – being more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a car accident) and a key opportunity (ie at a stage when interventions are possible, particularly with regard to driving tests and driving licences).
Two key interventions mentioned in the report were: (i) mandatory driving lessons covering the particularly high-risk areas, which are driving at night, driving on motorways and driving in rural areas; and (ii) graduated driving licensing, which involves a minimum 12 month learning period followed by a 12 month probationary period in which the new driver: (a) cannot drive between the hours of 11pm and 4am; (b) cannot drive a car with an engine bigger than 2.0 litre; and (c) drivers under 24 years of age cannot drive passengers under 24 years of age (other than immediate family members).
The views of three groups of people were sought during the focus groups: young drivers, the parents of young drivers and employers.
In terms of young drivers, the group was mixed by age (17-24 years), gender and rural/urban locations.
In the executive summary, it is noted that the key to being a ‘good driver’ is mostly seen as building confidence. However, it was accepted by the different groups that over-confidence can become a problem when it results in the taking of risks. This is important as it shows that less careful driving can be the result of a young driver’s attitude, and not their driving competence.
People agreed that learning to drive is a process which continues after the passing of the test. Whilst people commented that they felt the test was fit for purpose, many agreed that the test should cover defensive driving and driving on motorways.
Graduated driving licensing was resisted by all groups as it was seen to impose very inconvenient restrictions on young drivers without making a significant contribution to road safety.
However, mandatory driving lessons were supported – they were seen as being worth the investment and assumed to make a significant contribution to road safety.
In the conclusion to the report, the following points were made:-
- Learning to drive is the building of confidence
- Learning to drive continues after the test
- Young drivers take 3 key risks on the road (speed, multi-tasking and carrying passengers)
- There is widespread resistance to graduated driver licensing
- There is a lot of support for mandatory driving lessons
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