The 160+ delegates who attended the Young Driver Focus event earlier this week were given plenty of food for thought by the 11 presenters who contributed to the conference.
The presenters were challenged with putting forward suggestions and solutions to help reduce casualties and collisions caused by young drivers.
Carly Brookfield, chief executive of the Driving Instructors Association, suggested that parents should refresh their own driving skills before accompanying their children as they learn to drive. She also made a plea for “graduated learning, not graduated licensing”, rather than the current system of a learning to drive curriculum focused on a one-shot test”. She also suggested there could be a role for telematics in driver training.
Poppy Husband, TRL, said there is strong evidence to support graduated driver licencing, but was critical of current pre-driver interventions, the evidence for which she said was “weak at best”.
Natalie Oakley gave a fascinating insight into the psyche of young drivers on the back of a research project conducted by the Gloucestershire Road Safety Partnership. She stressed the wide differences between drivers aged 17-19yrs and those aged 20-24yrs and said these should be treated as two different groups. For the younger group, the car is often a venue in its own right, while for the older group it is a means of getting around.
She suggested that the thing most likely to change driving behaviour is a ‘personal scare’, but also said that many young people are looking to road safety professionals to help change attitudes and raise awareness of the risks and consequences of reckless and dangerous driving. She also suggested that many young people would welcome more enforcement by the police.
In a presentation focusing on telematics insurance, Richard King, founder of ingenie, explained how his company has utilised social media to engage with its customers, and that 90% use the App which gives feedback on their driving. He suggested a successful recipe for an App is for it to be “easy and convenient, entertaining and save them money”.
Lisa Dorn, Cranfield University, said “we know so much about driver behavior, but so little (of this information) reaches the ground”. She also said that in order to influence behaviour one must first understand motivation, and that profiling drivers is key to targeting interventions.
Liz Baldock, DVSA digital comms manager, offered a series of tips for connecting with new drivers online. She highlighted the importance of speaking the right language (and avoiding jargon), listening to your audience, avoiding shock messages (because people think it won’t happen to them), and choosing your online name carefully in order to engage rather than put people off.
The presentations will be uploaded to the event website in the next 24 hours.
Young Driver Focus
The conference was a joint venture between Road Safety GB and FirstCar, with support from Arval who provided the venue and infrastructure. It was held in Swindon on 14 May. Road Safety GB is grateful to FirstCar for its financial support for the event, and to Arval making the venue and facilities available FOC.