Are first time passers better drivers?

13.20 | 29 September 2010 | | 5 comments

Drivers who pass their test first time are less likely to have an accident than those who take it several times, according to new research (Telegraph).

The study, commissioned by the DfT and carried out by TRL, found that first time passers were 15% less likely to be involved in a collision.

The research noted: “First time drivers were on average more confident about their driving abilities. They also reported making fewer inexperienced errors, but made more violations and more aggressive violations when driving.”

A second study by TRL showed that the chances of having an accident during the first six months after passing a test hinged on whether learner drivers were given extensive tuition on how to drive in town centres and in the rain, before they took their test.

From 4 October independent driving will be introduced to the driving test, where candidates will no longer be given step-by-step instructions by an examiner, but will be told to follow signs to a local landmark. The DSA has also removed driving test routes from the internet, making it harder for candidates to learn courses by rote.

Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, said: “If you pass a test first time, you are likely to be well prepared. It means you will have had the extra tuition and driven the extra miles.

“It also means that you will have gained the experience of driving in town, driving in the dark and in the rain, rather than just pottering around the test route."

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    Dave, many thanks, you are of course correct. I have duly kicked myself! Ouch!

    As you say, table 4d shows that exceeding the speed limit was a contributory factor in 16% of fatal accidents. This is a significant figure.

    Mark, Wiltshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Mark, it’s great that you are checking the facts but I think you’ve made a basic error and you’ll kick yourself when you look again.

    Table 4d shows 16% of fatal and 7% of serious accidents have, or may have had, speeding as a factor, but you can’t add 16 and 7 to get 23% of KSIs because they are of very different totals of each.

    These together actually show that only 7.5% of KSIs involved speeding in 2009.

    ie more than 92% of all KSI collisions do NOT involve speeding.

    To see how this is correctly calculated:
    and download “contributoryfactors_speeding.xls”.
    This spreadsheet contains all the data and clicking the relevent grid shows the formula.

    Dave Finney, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    DFT figures. Table 4d:Speed as a contributory factor:Reported accidents and casualties by severity (Includes accidents and casualties in accidents where a police officer attended the scene and a contributory factor was reported):GB 2009. Lists ‘Exceeding the speed limit’ as a contributory factor in 23% of KSI accidents.

    Mark, Wiltshire
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    Does this investigation take into account what each driver does post test? I.e. how many miles do they travel, how many trips do they make, what roads do they go on and so on. Given the current structure of our testing system I very much doubt that passing first or second time round makes any difference to your driving experiences post-test.

    Danny, Gateshead
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Is the most likely reason for this that some people are better at driving than others?

    Perhaps, as with everything else in life, people have different skill levels.

    Differing driver skill levels is something that is almost completely missing from current political road safety. It is assumed that nobody can control a car safely above a speed limit, yet everybody can below. That nobody is capable of safely using a mobile phone, yet the overwhelmingly vast majority of drivers on a phone don’t crash.

    “…first time passers were 15% less likely to be involved in a collision … but made more violations and more aggressive violations when driving.”

    This might support a theory that those who are not very good at driving require more attempts to pass the test and then compensate for their lack of skill by driving slower, not using a mobile etc.

    But despite this end up in more crashes.

    That theory could also be supported by the police accident investigations (ie 92% of KSI collisions do NOT involve a speeding vehicle and less than 1% involve use of a phone)

    It could also explain why speed cameras don’t appear to catch the right people or reduce the number collisions.

    It may be difficult to work out what is happening in road safety but, whatever is happening, it isn’t what we are being told it is by the “road safety professionals”!

    Dave Finney, Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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