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RoSPA's Young Drivers Campaign

Improving the safety of young drivers is a key campaign issue for RoSPA.

Young and novice drivers are more likely to be involved in road accidents than more experienced drivers. They are more likely to be involved in accidents at high-speed, in the dark, when overtaking and when negotiating bends. They are also more likely than experienced drivers to be at fault for collisions.

...there is a number of reasons why young drivers are among the most vulnerable on the roads.

There is a number of reasons why young drivers are among the most vulnerable on the roads. Lack of experience is one of the main reasons, but attitude can also come into play. Younger drivers, especially men, tend to be over-confident and are more likely to drive in risky ways such as too fast, too close to the vehicle in front and by overtaking dangerously.

Young drivers often have excellent vehicle control skills and fast reactions. But, they are poor at identifying potential hazards and assessing risk, and tend to overestimate their ability to avoid hazards and accidents. It can take new drivers up to two seconds longer to react to hazardous situations than more experienced drivers.

Peer pressure can also play a role, with young drivers, especially men, who carry friends being more likely to crash.

RoSPA seeks to improve the safety of young drivers by contributing to the formation of policies at a national level, conducting research, and developing practical assessments and training courses for young drivers.

An example of how RoSPA contributes to the formation of national policy came in 2008 when the road safety department submitted a comprehensive response to the Driving Standards Agency’s Learning to Drive consultation, which was launched to bring about fundamental reforms to learner training, the driving test and post-test training.

RoSPA had long called for changes to the system through which learner drivers are trained and tested and the consultation provided a key opportunity to state its proposals formally.

Increasing the amount of driving experience a learner has (through professional and private practice); helping parents to provide more, and more effective, private practice; encouraging post-test training; and conducting further research into the feasibility of a graduated driver licensing system were RoSPA’s main proposals.

...RoSPA has long called for changes to the system through which learner drivers are trained and tested.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA head of road safety, said: “We need young drivers to gain more experience while they are learning, so encouraging them to spend extra hours behind the wheel in a variety of driving situations would have major benefits. It is known that crash rates fall when this happens. As well as experience, we have to address issues such as attitude, hazard perception and peer pressure.

“Britain has a good road safety record, but with a high number of young motorists being killed on our roads, it is time for more action.”

In the research sphere, RoSPA linked two key issues - young drivers and at-work drivers - when it launched its Young Drivers at Work project in 2008, funded by the Department for Transport.

More than 60 per cent of employers who took part in a study conducted for the project said that the learner driver training and testing process did not adequately prepare 17-24-year-olds for the challenges of at-work driving. More than half of those surveyed said they would like to see a post-test driving for work qualification introduced.

Based on the survey findings, RoSPA has been developing workshops for young drivers who drive for work. It is also developing free resources to enable employers to run their own workshops in-house.

Duncan Vernon, RoSPA road safety manager, said: “It is clear that further support is needed for young drivers at work, and employers have indicated they prefer face-to-face workshops as a way of giving that support.

...Britain has a good road safety record, but with a high number of young motorists being killed on our roads, it is time for more action.

“The Driving for Work workshops have been developed to go some way towards bridging the clear skills and training gap highlighted in our report.”

RoSPA’s road safety department has also been involved in two collaborations with Changemakers, a national charity which supports organisations looking to enhance their engagement with young people.

RoSPA’s first “young advocate” from Changemakers investigated why young people expressed little interest in advanced driving and how this might be improved. Her project included establishing a Facebook group to promote discussion. The second young advocate to work within the department researched the experiences of young male drivers in seeking reasonably-priced insurance deals. Here you can read the final report produced by Rohan Bennett with it's aim: "To get a fairer insurance deal for young male drivers." (PDF 4Mb)

In 2009, in addition to the workshops for young at-work drivers, RoSPA also launched its Young Drivers Assessment for 17-24-year-olds. The assessment gives young drivers an objective appraisal of their skills and attitude at the wheel, enabling them to take action to improve areas of concern.

For further information see the Road Safety [Road Safety] section of the web site.

Read our blog post on our official blog, Safety Gone Sane, Supervising a learner driver doesn’t need to be stressful.

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