The facts: how to educate young drivers

Young Driver Interventions can help to mitigate the risks posed by young inexperienced drivers on Scottish roads. Interventions are most the effective when the facts are clear and understood, and good behaviour change methods are incorporated into sessions.

The background

Consultation on the “Scottish Road Safety Strategy” was undertaken by the Scottish Government in 2008. 52% of respondents made young drivers their top priority. Several specifically noted the number of young drivers or passengers killed or injured on rural roads.

In response to the question, ‘How should we address these priorities?’ 86% highlighted education, covering:

  • Post-test continuing driver education
  • Change driver behaviour/driver responsibilities
  • Road safety training/Marketing events and training
  • Road safety as part of the curriculum.

A Panel of Road Safety Experts advised on measures to reduce the toll of death and injury. One key idea in the Road Safety Framework document produced was the encouragement of a ‘Driving for Life’ culture. This lifelong learning approach to driving aims to introduce a cultural change. Driving ability should be viewed as a skill to be maintained and enhanced across the lifespan.

Scottish research, published in 2005, found that younger males:

  • Generally associated driving with power, speed and ‘showing off’ to their friends. They aspired to owning fast, powerful cars and were more likely to display annoyance at other road users.
  • Displayed strong confidence in their driving ability and a belief that they were already good drivers. Dangers were perceived to come from other road users, despite admitting they occasionally took risks themselves.

It also found that younger females:

  • Associated driving with freedom and perceived passing their test as a natural progression in the process of entering adulthood.
  • Put stronger emphasis on the personal impact of bad driving. They cited physical injuries such as disfigurement, broken bones, whiplash and a necessity to visit hospital, e.g. physiotherapy treatment, as the potential aftermath of having been a victim, or the cause, of an accident.

Your role as a YDI educator

You’ve got the opportunity to create training sessions which are effective in changing behaviour and encouraging young drivers not just to increase their safety on the roads now but to view driving as a life long learning activity with ongoing skill development and improvements.

These messages can encourage young drivers to want to improve their skills and become better drivers.

For example, for young male drivers their desire to be seen as good drivers and to drive aspirational vehicles can be turned to their advantage by discussion of advanced driver training.

Go Safe on Scotland’s Roads it’s Everyone’s Responsibility. Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020, Scottish Government (2009). Edinburgh: The Scottish Government.