The Development of Children’s and Young People’s Attitudes to Driving: A Critical Review of the Literature

  • Published: Department for Transport, Road Safety Web Publication No. 18, 2010, September
  • Authors: K Durkin, A Tolmie
  • Date Added: 03 Apr 2012
  • Last Update: 12 Jan 2018
  • Format: pdf


The overall purpose of this report is to provide a critical review of the literature on the development of children and young people’s attitudes to driving and being a car passenger. The aim is to synthesise existing evidence to help policymakers better understand how, when and to what extent they can target the development of road use skills in children as they move from being a pedestrian and cyclist to being a driver and passenger.


This literature review focuses initially on psychosocial issues that have been identified as important factors in the behaviour of novice drivers. These form the basis for the main sections of the report. In each section, the main findings concerning novice drivers are summarised, with a particular emphasis on those that reflect developmental issues. The developmental implications are considered, drawing where possible on road-user research that has been conducted with participants below driving age and also on related aspects of developmental psychological research.

Key Findings:

  • Seven factors are identified:

    • Attitudes and affective beliefs

    • Perceived threat/perceived benefits

    • Subjective norms

    • Personality

    • Identity

    • Task difficulty and skills

    • Habit