New THINK! campaign urges young drivers to ‘accept their inexperience’

09.17 | 5 March 2019 | | 7 comments

It is only natural for new drivers to be nervous, but confidence comes with real road experience – that’s the message from the ‘Road Whisperer’ in a new campaign by THINK!.

The Jeff Bridges-style character, with a distinctive Southern American drawl, will feature in a series of films and GIFs throughout March to give new drivers tips that will help them deal with the challenges of driving solo.

The films will focus on a series of tips relating to situations where new drivers feel vulnerable or have the highest road casualties, including driving at night, and on country roads and motorways.

Advice will also cover tyre safety and looking out for vulnerable road users, and all tips will be delivered in the Road Whisperer’s ‘signature style’.

Jesse Norman, road safety minister, said: “Everyone feels some nerves when they’re on the road for the first time, but it takes a good driver to admit it.

“Confidence comes with time and practice, so it’s important to keep learning and build up experience to become a better driver.

“And that commitment to keep learning is what this THINK! campaign, with its tips and guidance, aims to create.”

Recent research commissioned by THINK! found that 17-30 year-old male drivers often feel vulnerable on the road, believing that while you only really start to learn how to drive after passing your test, you still need to appear confident in front of other people.

The films, created in partnership with marketing agency VMLY&R, will be broadcast online and on social media during March, while the ‘Night Driving’ film (above) will also be shown in cinemas.

The Road Whisperer said: “We were all fresh to the roads once. When I started out, I was as nervous as they come!

“Young folks need to know it’s a long road of learning after you pass your test, so go steady. I didn’t learn how to play the guitar like Keith Richards overnight.”

The new driver campaign builds on THINK’s award-winning ‘Mates Matter’ campaign – which saw the ‘biggest shift in more than a decade in young men’s attitudes towards drink driving’.

Mates Matter encourages young men to set new ‘man’ standards by accepting their inexperience and not giving in to the perceived pressure to perform.  



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    I met a group of 6th. Formers this morning and found about a third of them had already seen the videos. I asked them where they had seen them, and almost all answered Instagram.

    Martin A, Ipswich
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Please could Think! share some of the insight and thinking behind this campaign and how it would resonate with the target audience (young males). Is there a new Big Lebowski film coming out soon? or is it a retro-cult classic? A Netflix or Amazon Prime top film? Why this film?

    Ruth Gore, Beverley
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    David wrote, ‘How many young drivers could afford tuition that would make them legitimate *experts* in driving – the moment they had passed their test?’

    David, I take your point but it is important to remember that the standard driving test is an entry level, it is the lowest level of competence for driving on the roads and ADIs are qualified to teach at that level. Very, very few ADIs go on to take further qualifications which would equip them to teach at a higher level besides, it would normally be best for a new driver to have some 6 months of practice before thinking of further training. Also, you don’t become an expert just like that. If you are going to stand a chance of entering that bracket it will take a few years of the right tuition combined with focused practice. Yes, really.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Sam. It’s in The ‘Official DVSA Guide to DRIVING the essential skills’ 4th impression 2016 – page 169 – and to be found in all such DVSA manuals under the heading SEPARATION DISTANCE.

    It’s used by all ADI’s and is instructed to all trainees and used by some Advanced instructors also. It’s no wonder tailgating is so prevalent.

    It advises drivers/riders to be no closer than the Thinking Distance in order to save ‘valuable road space’ in an urban traffic situation but also warns that it places the driver/rider at increased risk??? Being taught to all trainees by ADI’s will mean that it would be applied in all other road traffic situations and then its taken out onto faster roads and even onto motorways. The belief is that it’s ok to be that much closer distance as one can stop in that distance if the vehicle in front slows and stops. Then one can also brake together.

    This closer distance fails to take into account the dangers of an emergency situation where braking or rather no braking occurs to the vehicle in front when it is sudden and unexpected. This is contrary to the distances mentioned in the Highway Code. Sect 126. Distances that have been adopted by all other road safety training bodies and organisations other then the DVSA and possibly RoADA who follow the DVSA advice.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    > Recent research commissioned by THINK! found that 17-30 year-old male drivers often feel vulnerable on the road, believing that while you only really start to learn how to drive after passing your test

    Well, yes. It’s an opinion shared by many – even by the driving instructor that I had used. How many young drivers could afford tuition that would make them legitimate *experts* in driving – the moment they had passed their test?

    (also who else noticed that the interior in the first video didn’t match the car…)

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    Hi Bob,

    it would be really helpful if you could be more specific about the DVSA source you’re referring to. In which publication will I find it?



    Sam Wright, Kettering
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    Great comment ‘At night time give yourself enough spaced to stop’. However the DVSA tell us that to save valuable road space in a traffic situation we should forget the safer full stopping distance and go for the nearer, much nearer Thinking distance only. This represents a differential between 30ft [Thinking distance] and 98ft Full Stopping Distance] according to the DVSA.

    Which one do you consider to be a safer distance? At night time one should understand that dangers do not appear as obvious as the do in day time so perhaps a driver should increase that distance to be safe, but which one, the lower one or the right one.

    I have noticed that at night time and or when raining or just wet road conditions that drivers do not give any greater distance at all and still maintain a much too short a distance. Why is that.

    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

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