Young Drivers Research Debrief

  • Published: Big Island Research and Planning (2015, March)
  • Authors: Big Island Research and Planning
  • Date Added: 12 Jan 2018
  • Last Update: 12 Jan 2018
  • Format: pdf


The objective of the study was to develop insights on UK young drivers’ learning process (in a broader sense) and stages of their involvement in car driving, with the use of various perspectives.


Within the study there were 10 Focus Group Interviews with young drivers, 4 In-depth Interviews with parents and 8 In-depth Interviews with employers’ representatives. In the case of the first two groups, applied screening criteria included: learning processes’ stage, drivers’ age, type of location, gender, social segment, and location. Respondents from the last group were representatives of companies having their own fleet. Their provenance was diversified in terms of: industry, company size and type of fleet.

Key Findings:

  • It was concluded that driving is perceived by young people as a step to independence, giving them a feeling of freedom. Becoming a good driver was linked merely with certain attitudes than particular skills. Gaining confidence was perceived as a key step in this process, especially among young men. Preceding ones included mastering control over the vehicle and developing awareness about the road and traffic around. Passing the driving test is, in their view, not the final stage of the learning process, after licensure you learn a more “natural” way of driving and the “real” rules of the road.  

  • Young drivers do not perceive themselves as being potentially affected by risk on the road, it seems for them to be more applicable to older people. In their view, young drivers accidents’ statistics do not correspond to them. Collisions are attributed to the “reckless few”, i.e. associated merely with certain attitudes than with inexperience. However, speeding is seen as the main cause of risk, multi-tasking is perceived as a permissible behaviour, not resulting in serious consequences.

  • When it comes to the driving test, it is not perceived as a final step in the learning process. It continues months after, when you learn more natural ways of driving and you learn the rules of the road. Nevertheless, the idea of the Graduated Driving License was resisted and not only by the young drivers, but by other groups as well. In fact, parents as the keeper of the car keys were to some extent substituting this restriction by imposing their own rules on how the car will be used in the first months after their children’s licensure. Telematic policies are seen rather as an enforcement than educational measure. Although some young drivers and parents do not reject the idea of telematics, it is perceived as trading one’s own freedom with insurance companies.

  • In contrast to Graduated Driving Licenses, mandatory driving lessons were seen as useful, worth investment and making a real difference on the road. The main factor influencing choice of instructor was his/her personality. All instructors can teach control and awareness, but what differentiates them is the ability to build confidence.

  • In the view of employers, young people would have the skills required and if not, additional training could be provided. Employers were merely concerned about possible attitudes and irresponsible driving.