Young drivers ‘slow to deal with vulnerable road users’

11.59 | 10 January 2018 | | 3 comments

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.


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    According to some statistics the reason for less collisions for the the 17 to 20 year old potential driver is that they cannot obtain insurance at a reasonable price. Therefore they no longer wish to drive a car. Several years ago such a driver would have been put on as a second driver on the vehicle owned no doubt by another member of the family but it was never admitted that he/she was in fact the primary user. Insurances under pressure decided that this was no longer to be tolerated and that the primary user should be the first named on the policy and so that now being the case the young driver has to pay an astonishing amount of premiums if he were to drive a car.

    That said I read of a case recently where the young person if he were solely to use the car his premiums would have been some £5000 but if his father or mother was to be included on the policy as a second driver then with that experienced driver now included his premiums actually came down to just under 2 grand.

    Funny old world isn’t it.

    bob craven
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    “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.”
    Good to see a positive development.

    Could the difficulty with dealing with VRU be something to do with the cult of “making progress” that seems to infect examiners. If in doubt slow down is a good guide.

    Paul Luton, London
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    The interesting thing about this rationale is which party is the vulnerable one. I have always maintained that the ones who have the crash are the ones which are vulnerable because most drivers are like the next crash waiting to happen and you have to have strategies to protect yourself, and reduce your own vulnerability, to being in contact with them. And, in driver assessments/reviews etc, there should be a heading indicating that driver’s vulnerability (to crashes) factor. Then you can start to help them understand how to reduce their vulnerabiltiy and be safer on the roads.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton
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