Driving test leaves Britain's young motorists under prepared

Article date: 19 July 2007

  • Call for urgent reform of driver training and testing -

One in three young drivers believes they are a danger to other road users, according to research out today. 

RAC's 2007 Report on Motoring reveals that despite young drivers' desire to get behind the wheel, a third (30%) admit the standard driving test does not prepare them for modern driving, leaving them a danger to themselves and other motorists. RAC is therefore calling for an urgent and immediate reform of the driving test and driver training.

The research reveals that over three quarters (79%) want mandatory supervised ‘night driving' training as part of the learning process, while 65% of young motorists believe they need supervised driving lessons on the motorway. Over half (58%) believe there should be more about ‘safe driving' included in the national curriculum.

A review of the DSA driving test is therefore imperative, especially as a quarter (26%) of young drivers state they are not confident in their driving abilities after passing the test.

Calls for a review of the standard driving test are supported by the wider motoring community who are keen to help rather than restrict young drivers' freedom. For example, 43% are against young motorists receiving higher penalties while nearly half (47%) believe a curfew on night driving would be unacceptable.

Almost three quarters (72%) of British drivers believe more emphasis should be given to young people to help them drive more safely:

  • Over two thirds (67%) of drivers are calling for young motorists to receive better initial training and education
  • 4 in 5 motorists (88%) believe there should be training on ‘night driving'
  • 93% of British drivers want the minimum driving age increased to 18 while a quarter want it raised to 21
  • Almost three quarters (70%) believe there should be a minimum driving period and 66% believe there should be an obligatory period of supervised driving after passing the test

Mike Hutter, managing director of BSM, the UK's leading driving school, which is part of RAC, says: "Our research shows that young motorists are keen for a more relevant driving test, which hasn't changed significantly since 1999. The current test leaves them feeling ill-prepared for the rigours of today's driving environment with more congested roads and other road users. 

"Despite the fact that motorways offer a similar environment to dual carriageways, our experience has shown that newly qualified drivers are still fearful and lacking in confidence when first confronted with a motorway situation. To help overcome their fears and make them safer drivers, we believe learner drivers should be allowed on motorways with an Approved Driving Instructor in a car fitted with dual control and would urge the Government to change its approach.

"We welcome many of the findings in the Transport Committee report on Novice Drivers, which will address some of the safety concerns around young drivers. However, we believe that a lowering of the alcohol limit for all drivers - rather than a zero limit for young drivers - would be more effective and avoid confusion among young drivers. We hope the Government now acts upon the report recommendations and addresses these issues as a matter of urgency."


RAC Press office contact:
Liz Kennett 01603 688263/07800 699667, Adam Cracknell 01603 684916/07800 699517 or Nico Holmes (020 7908 6433) Jennifer Hardisty (020 7908 6465)

Driving Test
Jun 1935: Compulsory testing brought in for all drivers

Nov 1995: Pass Plus scheme introduced

Jul 1996: A separate written theory test introduced

May 1999: Changes to the ‘L' test include extending the length of the test, randomising the emergency stop manoeuvre and failing candidates for committing 16 or more driving faults

Nov 2002: A hazard perception element is introduced into the theory test

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 per cent.
  • RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at http://www.racnews.co.uk/.

About the Report on Motoring

The most comprehensive report of its kind, the RAC Report on Motoring 2007: Driving Safely? is based on the views of 2,029 British motorists (defined as currently having a valid driving licence and driving at least once a month). The drivers, who were nationally representative on age, gender and socio-economic groups, were interviewed by Quadrangle, in person, in their homes between February and March 2007.

The quantitative research was supported with qualitative research provided by seven focus groups representing the following key motorist types:

Young/ new drivers

Elderly drivers

Company car drivers

Driving for work

School run Mums


The ‘Average' motorist

Two further groups were held with pre-driving teens aged 15-16: one group of girls and one of boys.

Until 1999, the RAC's Reports on Motoring were called ‘The Lex Report on Motoring'.  Despite this change in name, consistent research methods have been used throughout.

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