Road Safety News

Young drivers need more preparation, say UK motorists

Thursday 30th May 2013

89% of motorists believe that there should be a minimum learning period before people take the driving test, with the majority favouring at least six months, according to a survey by GEM Motoring Assist.

85% of respondents to the poll also want to see motorway driving included during driving lessons, with 77% agreeing that motorway driving should be included in the test itself.

59% of respondents support a post-test assessment in order to complete a probationary period, and 63% support a speed limiter device being fitted to new drivers' cars.

More than half of respondents agree that the legal age for driving a car should remain at 17, and the same amount are happy with the current two year probationary period for new drivers (during which they return to learner status if they receive six or more penalty points).

However, during the probationary period, 27% of respondents agree there should be a restriction on carrying passengers below the age of 25, while 25% support reducing the drink drive limit.

David Williams MBE, CEO of GEM Motoring Assist, said: “The results clearly show that UK motorists aren’t happy with the Government’s approach to young and new drivers.

“More stringent requirements and stricter regulations would ensure that drivers benefit as much as possible from the learning process, in turn, helping to reassure other road users that all new drivers are fully equipped to be behind the wheel.

“There is no doubt from this survey that there is real concern for the learning process for new drivers, and this crucial period is something that we believe requires more attention and administration by law. With a Government Green Paper on the subject of ‘young drivers’ expected this summer, we sincerely hope that it will address the road safety issues that clearly alarm the UK motoring population.”


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As an ADI for 16 years, I know most young drivers are taught to drive and not just to pass the test - like any profession there are always a few who teach the minimum! To keep blaming ADIs for the misfortune of the minority of young drivers who speed, overtake in a dangerous manner, etc, etc is an easy out! As Dr Whalen has stated this minority have a serious problem with their attitude which can be addressed through early intervention but too late at 17 apart from enforcement. Yet money is being snatched away from road safety pre young driver age.
Lucy, Scotland

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Nick: I wasn't criticising your editorial control - just making an observation. I won't return to the topic of speed in this thread, but then again I didn't really introduce it in the first place!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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We read every comment before it is published and if strays too far from the topic in the news item we either moderate or disallow it. This is a subjective process though, and I'm not saying we always get it right. With this in mind, can I ask that any further comments on this thread return to the topic of young drivers rather than speed! Thanks for your cooperation.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety GB newsfeed

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)


I think it's a denial of the fact that the significance of speed being in its ability to disallow the prevention of a collision rather than the cause of it. That's why speed may only be the cause of a minority of collisions, but is implicated in most of them as a reason why they weren't capable of being avoided.

Coming back to the subject of young drivers I think that the fact that many have no experience in their teens of cycling on the roads means they are denied the development of spatial awareness and of course a real appreciation of the needs of cyclists. I think that an increase in cycling by teens, particularly to school, would make a significant difference to their abilities as novice drivers.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

It's fascinating isn't it, how the anti- speed legislation/management lobby are able, with such subtlety, to shoe-horn their 'views' into almost any news feed item these days.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

Far more emphasis should be placed on post test training and linking insurance premiums to the quantity and quality of post test training undertaken. It is incredible that with the volume of traffic and far too many aggressive drivers on the roads today that a 40 minute test can bring a driver a licence to drive anywhere, on their own with no further training.
Peter Gledhill ADI

Agree (9) | Disagree (1)

Actually David, “Poor turn or manoeuvre” was a factor in over 13% of fatal and serious collisions in 2010. This was almost double the number where speeding was a factor and more than double where alcohol was a factor.

Turns and manoeuvres are normally performed at low speed and may be so dangerous for several reasons.
1) A safe turn or manoeuvre generally requires a greater awareness of all other road users.
2) Greater differentials of speed.
3) The public may not be aware of the dangers of turning and manoeuvring (National and local publicity budgets have been spent highlighting other factors).

Dr Whalen makes the point that safety requires drivers to think independently, accurately assess situations and formulate appropriate driving plans. Unfortunately the current fashion to prosecute drivers in their millions for minor technical infringements may do the opposite by encouraging rules to be blindly obeyed.
Dave, Slough

Agree (4) | Disagree (14)

The general feeling I get when taking on pupils taught by other instructors, and who have failed tests, is that they haven't been taught how to apply the skills they have and there are large gaps in how the syllabus has been covered.

Like colleges have found with GCSE holders, many new drivers lack the independent thinking ability to assess situations and formulate appropriate driving plans. This improves with experience (circa 1000 miles). This portion of novice drivers may be helped by some of the measures being considered.

For the minority of new drivers the problem is their attitude and they choose the wrong driving style. How we address this minority may have to be through enforcement.
Dr James Whalen DSA ADI (car), Wolverhampton

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Good point David. Just after I passed my test, my instructor said to me "This is just the beginning - all we've done is brought you up to test standard - from now on you'll still be learning and improving". Wise words but the will to improve still need to be instilled in the individual.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

Would it not be a good idea if young drivers were taught to drive instead of how to pass a test. Nobody ever lost their life because they could not do a turn in the road without clouting a kerb, or because they could not park. Plenty of drivers die because they do not know how to overtake properly, or how to take a bend at the correct speed. Driver training needs to move forward.
David, Suffolk

Agree (11) | Disagree (2)