Young drivers feel ill prepared for the roads

12.00 | 7 October 2013 | | 8 comments

Young drivers say driving lessons are failing to prepare them for life on the road and want an overhaul of the learning process to better equip the next generation of motorists, according to a new report by The Co-operative Insurance.

Findings in the report, Young Drivers: Are they ready for the road?, include: 62% of young drivers favour a minimum learning period; 24% say an accident they were involved in could have been avoided with more learning; and 29% say they cannot drive alone after passing.

Based on the views of more than 2,000 young drivers, the report also shows that 48% of respondents felt unprepared for motorway driving after passing their test; 29% said they were not ready for night-time driving; and 14% considered themselves to be ‘unprepared’ to drive at all.

This lack of confidence has led to young drivers deliberately going out of their way to avoid certain situations including motorway driving (21%) and driving in city centres (19%), while 8% will not turn right at busy junctions.

Despite this, 18% passed their driving test after spending three months or less learning to drive and 50% took six months or less to pass.

James Hillon, director of General Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said: “A lot of public debate is taking place on how safety can be improved and insurance premiums cut for young drivers, but the views of young motorists themselves are rarely heard.

“Far from being the stereotypical image of the ‘boy-racer’, this study shows that many are not confident to face everyday situations on Britain’s roads in the early years, despite months of lessons. Young people say that the current system fails to prepare them for driving on motorways, on their own or in poor conditions.

“They want to see a more comprehensive approach and are hugely in favour of a minimum learning period for all new drivers to fully prepare them, and we fully support this.

“It’s startling that one in four young drivers who have had an accident believe it could have been prevented if they had taken more time to learn to drive before taking their test.”

Stephen Hammond, roads minister, said: “Improving young drivers’ safety is a priority for the Government – that is why we have already improved the driving test so that it better reflects real-life conditions on the road, rather than focusing on specific manoeuvres.

“We are also considering a range of options to ensure learners and newly qualified drivers are properly prepared for the road and we will publish our proposals later in the year.”


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    This report is a searing indictment of the current learning provision for new drivers. It would be really interesting to know from those in the survey who reported they felt ‘unprepared’ post test a) if they had been tutored by an ADI or a PDI and b) how many hours of tuition they had undertaken. Our own research for the Good Egg Guide for New Drivers highlighted several areas of confusion and misconception which add to the challenge of inexperience. We really need to hear what they are telling us and act on it quickly.

    Jan James CEO Good Egg Safety
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I applaud the Co-operative insurance company for highlighting the issues identified in their report, but wouldn’t it be great to see insurance companies helping to encourage new drivers to take further training by supporting post test courses with insurance discounts.

    We all know that not every post test course is worthy of support, but there are a number of courses being delivered locally that are based on best practice, using ADIs that have the knowledge and skills to deliver training that identifies local as well as national issues and challenge beliefs and attitudes that put new drivers at risk.

    Many Local Authorities run courses for ADIs to help raise the standard of not only learner instruction, but all driver training. These are well attended and many ADIs give up a days earning and pay to attend these, showing, I believe, a desire to improve standards and modernise driver training.

    Trying to get insurance company support is almost impossible (believe me I’ve tried!). We do work with some that realise the benefit of working in partnership and using our courses to support drivers that need remedial driver training (highlighted from their data) as well as supporting new drivers with independent driving.

    I would like to see the Association of British Insurers (ABI) invest time in seeing which courses are worthy of support and encouraging their members to get involved. For some time there was talk of a ‘kite’ mark system to identify these courses to ensure they were worthy of insurance discounts, but there has been no progress really – why?

    June Howlett, Transport for Buckinghamshire
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    Do people not see the irony in people (and their parents) wanting to pass as quickly and cheaply as possible and then saying they do not feel prepared for life post-test?

    Andy, Warwick
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    I concur with David (Suffolk)’s comments. The DSA has long needed to get its head out of the sand on this one. Mechanical skills are important but getting the attitude right in young drivers is even more important and I feel not enough emphasis is placed on this. (See also my comment on the ‘age to obtain a driving licence could rise to 18 years’.

    Nigel Albright, TAUNTON
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    The statement in the report that young drivers feel “woefully unprepared” for life on the road should be a huge wake-up call to all the ‘agencies’ involved in driver/rider training. When your customers tell you that what you are doing for them in return for their money is not working then proposing that they do more of the same is simply not an option.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    I am always sceptical about surveys I read where Young Drivers make statements about feeling not being adequately prepared. IT always depends on how you ask the question but in my experience it is more about the nervous period they have about being confronted for the first time when they go out alone. Once they have overcome that fear the idea that they are not able as suggested seems to disappear. I am not sure how we deal with that as at some point they have to go out alone.

    Graham Feest
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    Excellent news that young drivers’ opinions are being sought and the results are surprising. While I mostly agree with David, the purpose of the test should simply be to ensure new drivers do not pose significant risks to others and, at that, it does appear to be fit-for-purpose.

    The survey results suggest young drivers are self-regulating their own safety (as every citizen should for all dangers) but what are young drivers doing to address the issues they themselves perceive?

    There may be fewer options these days, one of which is that insurance generally no longer covers driving other vehicles (as it did when I was young). This severely limits the practicalities of getting friends or family members who are experienced drivers to assist in the learning process.

    The IAM used to offer, after a joining fee, free tuition. If that is still available, does it need more publicity?

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

    This report seems to confirm what I have suspected for years: despite all the tweaks that the DSA test has undergone, it is not in any way fit for purpose. ADIs will always teach to pass the test, so the test must change. Being taught how to reverse around corners, parallel park, and turn in the road are useful, but people do not generally lose their lives if they cannot do these things. Young drivers need to be taught to overtake, corner, drive at night, cope with peer pressure, etc. if they are to be effective. Radical change is needed, not the little tweaks the test has been subjected to.

    David, Suffolk
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