Male learner pressure and bad parental habits increasing dangerous driving says biggest ever driving instructor survey

Article date: 16 August 2007

  • Almost two thirds (61%) of BSM instructors believe that male learners feel more intense peer pressure to pass their test
  • Seven out of 10 (69%) instructors think that male learners have more confidence in their abilities
  • Less than a third (29%) of instructors believe they pass their test more quickly than females
  • Two thirds (68%) of those surveyed note that female learners tend to take a more studious approach to lessons than their male counterparts.

A new report released today reveals a startling gender divide in the pressures felt by learner drivers. According to BSM's L-Plate Britain report, the biggest ever study of UK driving instructors, 61% believe that male learners feel more intense peer pressure to pass their test, resulting in more dangerous driving once they get on the road.

The L-Plate Britain figures are also brought home by the fact that of the 4,028 drivers aged 24 and under killed or seriously injured in 2005, nearly three quarters (74.4%) were male.*

Based on the views of nearly 600 BSM driving instructors, L-Plate Britain also reveals misplaced confidence levels among males. Although seven out of 10 (69%) instructors told researchers that male learners have more confidence in their abilities, less than a third (29%) of instructors believe they pass their test more quickly than females.

The report also shows different attitudes towards learning, with two thirds (68%) of those surveyed noting that female learners tend to take a more studious approach to lessons than their male counterparts. For example, although nine out of 10 (88%) instructors believe that practice with parents can complement professional lessons and 84% think that parental lessons ensure students pass more quickly, males are still less likely to practice with parents. In fact, a third of instructors (31%) told researchers that females are more likely to practice outside of professional lessons than male learners.

However, although instructors overwhelmingly admit that parental lessons can help learners progress more quickly, 79% believe learners can pick up bad habits from their parents. As a result, nine out of 10 (88%) instructors would recommend that parents take refresher lessons prior to taking their children out and over half (56%) would like to see such lessons become mandatory.

According to the L-Plate Britain report, the top five bad habits picked up from parents are:

  1. Not checking mirrors
  2. Crossing hands while steering
  3. Speeding
  4. Tail-gating
  5. Answering mobile phones.

Such unsafe driving practice can lead to fines, penalty points and, more alarmingly loss of life, as DfT statistics** show that 26% of fatalities amongst young drivers, for example, are caused by excessive speed.

Mike Hutter, managing director of BSM, comments: "A carefully balanced mix of professional training and private practice can obviously improve the chances of passing the test and create more safe and responsible young drivers. However, the most important thing is that learners are taught to learn to drive for life, not just to pass their test. This is clearly more challenging for those young people who are facing increased pressure to pass or those that are being taught bad habits by their parents."

Download BSM's L-Plate Britain report PDF (951K) 


BSM/RAC Press office contact:
Adam Cracknell on 01603 684916/07800 699517  or Sonia Clarke on 0207 908 6570

Notes to editors:
Images can be obtained from and case studies by calling BSM/RAC press office.

617 BSM instructors took part in an in-depth survey for the BSM L-Plate Britain Report between 4 and 25 June 2007.

* DfT Road Casualties Great Britain (2005), tables 7a and 7c.

**According to the DfT Road Casualties Great Britain Report (2005), there were 773 fatalities among 16-29 year olds, 26 per cent of which were caused by excessive speed.

About BSM
Founded in 1910, BSM is the UK's most experienced national driving school. Each year it teaches over 160,000 learners how to drive. It has approx. 3,400 driving instructors across the UK.

While BSM is best known for teaching learner drivers, it is also one of the largest providers of training for driving instructors. It is a founding member of ORDIT (Official Registry of Driving Instructor Training) and plays an active role in lobbying the Government on road safety and learner driver-related issues.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at

Download BSM's L-Plate Britain report PDF (951K) 

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