Training

Title: Feeling Safe, Itching to Drive: Pre-driver and Learner Perspectives on Driving and Learning

Organisation: Department for Transport
Date uploaded: 28th January 2011
Date published/launched: Pre 2009

The patterns of attitude and behaviour identified in earlier research with young drivers aged 17 to 25 were investigated in a series of workshops with young pre-drivers and learners, their parents and approved driving instructors.

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The origins of, and influences on, the patterns of attitude and behaviour identified in earlier research with young drivers aged 17 to 25 were investigated in a series of workshops with young pre-drivers and learners, their parents and approved driving instructors (ADIs).

The workshops focused in particular on understanding young pre-drivers’ and learners’ definitions of good driving and their expectations and/or experiences of the learning process. Potential opportunities to influence pre-drivers’ and learners’ attitudes were indentified, and a pragmatic segmentation of learners by mindset was proposed.

Findings include:

• Pre-drivers’ and learners’ judgements that someone is a good driver are largely based on the fact that one feels safe in the car with them.
• The evidence suggests that this feeling of safety is not based on a cognitive assessment but is an affective reaction to messages projected through the driver. Three types of message in particular seem to have a positive impact on the feeling of safety: confidence, concern and superiority.
• Unlike the young drivers in earlier work, young pre-drivers and learners make very little reference to the social activity of driving in their descriptions of good driving.
• Young passengers are doubly insulated from other drivers – by the ‘bubble’ of the car, and by the fact that someone else is driving.
• The moment when a young person first drives on their own is a critical moment which breaks the safe, insulated social space of the car. During the learning process, the supportive presence of an ADI helps to prevent this break happening.
• Therefore it may be that many young people are only receptive to learning about the social activity of driving after they have driven on their own, i.e. after they have passed their test and so stopped formal learning.
• Young learners vary in their levels of impatience to pass the test and their levels of concern about their readiness to pass. Learners with low levels of concern and high levels of impatience are a cause for concern – and some may ‘play the system’, doing as they are told in lessons and the test purely to speed up the process of getting a licence.
• There are opportunities to clarify the respective roles of learner, parent and ADI in the learning process. In particular, there is a tension between the desire to get enough experience pre-test and the need, as the paying client, to ensure ‘value for money’.

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