A scary 57% of British motorists think they’re a worse driver now than when they first passed their test. Not a great confidence booster for driving on UK roads…
But, this appears to be more to do with bad habits than causing a crash.
Young Driver, the UK’s largest provider of pre-17 driving lessons, found that the older the driver, the more worried they’d be about passing their driving test if they had to retake it now: 39% of drivers thought they’d struggle to pass, increasing to 46% for over 55s.
Women were less confident than men, with 42% vs 36% saying they thought they’d fail a test now.
Kim Stanton, Managing Director at Young Driver, said: “Most drivers know they’ve picked up bad habits along the way, which is why they probably feel like they’d fail if faced with an examiner.
“In reality, we know experience makes a safer driver, and this is borne out in road safety statistics. Shockingly, one in five newly qualified drivers has an accident within six months of getting on the road.
“With 400,000 17-21 year-olds passing their test every year*, that’s 80,000 potentially avoidable accidents within this vulnerable group. Almost 1,300 17-24-year-olds are killed or seriously injured in road accidents each year* – a much higher proportion than that age group accounts for in terms of the total number of road users.”
Existing research has shown that the number of new driver accidents can be halved by teaching younger drivers over a longer period of time.
Experience certainly counts for a lot, despite the findings, and driver education scheme Admiral Young Driver was set up eight years ago to capitalise on this. Keen youngsters can get an early taste of driving from the tender age of 10.
Don’t worry, they’re not let loose on public roads, but they do learn the main driving skills in a dual-controlled car with an instructor.
Teen expert Nicola Morgan, an award-winning author and international speaker who specialises in teen development explains: “The brain learns to do anything well by repetition. Every time we repeat an activity we are actually creating and then strengthening physical pathways between neurons (nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord).
The more times we do it, the stronger those pathways become; the stronger they become, the more ‘automatic’ the skills in question become.
“There is a danger in learning to drive in a short space of time and with the minimum repetitions needed to pass the test but not to become an expert. The skills required to drive confidently and safely (especially while distracted) have not been firmly embedded as neural pathways in the brain. Without these strong pathways, a huge amount of focus goes on the things that should be automatic, such as gear-changing and position in the road, leaving less focus for noticing and dealing with sudden road changes, such as another driver stopping suddenly.”
So, how confident would you be about retaking your driver’s test?