A new report has concluded that young drivers need to learn more quickly how to avoid crashes with vulnerable road users.
Co-published by IAM RoadSmart and TRL, the report finds that young drivers learn ‘much quicker than expected’ how to avoid single vehicle loss of control collisions.
However, they are slower to learn how to deal with vulnerable road users, be safe on the motorway and safely complete low speed manoeuvres. IAM RoadSmart says this could be ‘indicative of poor hazard perception skills’.
IAM RoadSmart describes these findings as surprising given that ‘the classic young driver crash usually involves going too fast on a country road’.
The report, titled Young Novice Driver Collision Types, set out to identify which aspects of driving are learned quickest and which take more time – on the basis that targeting the skills that newly qualified young drivers ‘struggle to take in’ could bring significant road safety benefits for this group.
The report makes a number of recommendations to improve new driver training, particularly with regard to hazard perception, vulnerable road users and other vehicles.
It also underlines the ‘critical importance’ of gaining driving experience in a wide variety of traffic situations – pointing to research which suggests an 17-year-old driver can expect their risk of being involved in a crash to reduce by 36% as a result of driving experience, but only by 6% owing to ageing and maturity.
IAM RoadSmart also says analysis of collision trends between 2002 and 2015 shows a substantial reduction in the crash rate for the two youngest age groups. The collision rate for 17-20 year old car drivers fell by 49% in this time, while the rate for 21-29 year olds fell by 33%.
Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “It is really useful to learn more about how young drivers are gaining the experience they need to have a safe driving career.
“However, analysing the results, it is vital that Government, road safety bodies and the driver instruction industry work together to generate new strategies to target those skills that are not being learned at the fastest rate.
“It also shows that in the formative years of driving, there is clearly a need for post-test training to continue, to build experience that can reduce the number of needless tragedies on our roads.”
The report also identified a change in travel behaviour, with 17-20 year olds driving less and walking or cycling more – which could, in part, be contributing to the falling collision rate among this age group.