Are young drivers road ready?

One-in-three young drivers feel they’re not ready for life on the road after passing their test, with many admitting they don’t even have the confidence to go out in the car on their own, new research has revealed. The study, which was conducted by Co-operative Insurance and surveyed 2,000 drivers aged between 18 and 30, found almost a third (29%) of young motorists feel driving lessons don’t do enough to prepare them for life after their test, while a worrying 14% admitted they didn’t feel ready to drive at all. A similar study carried out earlier this year by another insurance provider, Swinton, also found many young drivers have trouble adjusting to the speed and movement of traffic and feel it can take as long as three-and-a-half years to fully get the hang of being behind the wheel. And if the MoneySuperMarket battle of the sexes driving test challenge is anything to go by, it may take even longer than that! [embed width="560" height="315"] [/embed] The trouble with young drivers The statistics surrounding young drivers and road safety are impossible to overlook as road accidents are still the biggest killer of young people in the UK and statistics from Brake, the road safety charity, reveal how an 18-year-old driver is at least three times more likely to be involved in a car crash than someone in their 40s. This is one of the main reasons why young drivers are charged such high car insurance premiums. Although youthful bravado will be to blame in some cases, it appears that a simple lack of road awareness is also to blame as the Co-operative study also found that almost a quarter (24%) of those surveyed admitted an accident they had could have been prevented if they spent more time learning to drive and had better road sense. And given that situations such as motorway driving (21%), night time driving (29%), and adverse weather conditions (14%) that are among the biggest concerns for young drivers (the 8% who avoid right turns should probably just stay off the roads), is it time to introduce a minimum learning period before provisional licence holders can take their test? A whopping 62% of young motorists seem to think so, but the government doesn’t seem to agree as there is still no sign of the green paper on young drivers that was due for publication in June this year. Getting young drivers road ready While there is currently no lower limit on the number of driving lessons a learner must take before putting in for their test, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recommends 47 hours of tuition under the supervision of a qualified instructor, with a further 22 hours of private practice. However, of the young motorists who took part in the Co-operative study, 18% passed their driving test after spending just three months or less taking lessons and over half took six months or less to pass - which means they either passed before they’d taken the recommended number of lessons, else they crammed in a serious number of hours on the road. And although there has been a delay in publishing the government green paper on young drivers, notably the proposals set out in the Association of British Insurers’ Safe Young Drivers scheme, there are other schemes already in place that place a greater emphasis on preparation for life on the road. One such scheme is AutoCar Start, a three-year driving programme designed to encourage responsible motoring and better driving that incorporates of high quality driving tuition with regular post-driving test assessment and telematics technology. Another is RED driving school’s ‘Get Road RED-dy’ scheme which gives learner drivers access to ‘Road Brain Trainer’ e-learning tools and seven hours of free training to develop road awareness, including dealing with in-car distractions and ways to improve observation and avoid crashes. Peter Harrison, car insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket said: “The fact that so many young drivers feel underprepared for life on the road once they pass their test is worrying and does seem to bear out insurers concerns that young motorists present a greater risk on UK roads. “While a minimum learning period would be a good idea, it is one that doesn’t look like it will be put in to practice any time soon, so it’s vital that young drivers get in as much time on the road as possible before passing their test, which places a greater emphasis on parents taking their children out for extra lessons.” And there's an argument that young drivers should take the Pass Plus once they have passed their test and all insurers should look at ways in which they can reward safer young drivers. Ian McIntosh, CEO of RED Driving School said: "There is nothing quite like practical experience to prepare learners for life on the road. However, there is only so much experience that a learner can get with a provisional licence which is why we encourage all new drivers to take Pass Plus or motorway driving lessons. These are great ways to improve driving skills as they teach new drivers how to drive in different situations that they won’t have encountered before, such as motorway and night-time driving. These aren’t covered in the practical test but as such lessons come as an extra cost, it isn’t something all pupils can afford." He added: "If insurance companies rewarded drivers based on their learning experience then more new drivers may be inclined to seek quality tuition based around a structured learning programme. RED Driving School has partnered with ingenie as it rewards younger drivers for safe driving by reducing their insurance costs."

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