Licensing and training

New drivers, particularly young drivers, can learn the technical skills of driving quickly but take much longer to develop the experience needed to drive safely. Systems such as Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) allow new drivers to build up their skills and experience gradually and safely. Use this page to access research on how new drivers learn, and evidence for the benefits of GDL.

Graduated Driver Licensing: A regional analysis of potential casualty savings in Great Britain
RAC Foundation, 02/07/14

Graduated driver licensing could prevent more than 400 deaths and serious injuries each year in Britain, and save the economy £200m annually.

Two-thirds support GDL to improve young driver safety
RAC Foundation, 02/07/14

Two thirds (68%) of UK adults, and 41% of young drivers, support the introduction of graduated driver licensing.

Tracking progress in teenage crash risk in the United States since the advent of graduated driver licensing programs
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 31/03/14

Fatal and serious crashes involving US teenage drivers have declined steadily since 1996, when the first graduated licensing programme was implemented in the US.

The association of graduated driver licensing with miles driven and fatal crash rates per miles driven among adolescents
West Virginia University, 13/02/14

16 year-old drivers in the US who are subject to graduated driver licensing have 37% fewer crashes per year, and 17% fewer crashes per mile driven.

Training drivers to have the insight to avoid emergency situations, not the skills to overcome emergency situations
International Road Federation, 14/01/14

Driver crash rates increase following skid training, as it causes overconfidence and increased risk-taking.

Implementing GDL in Great Britain would save 4,471 casualties and £224 million annually
Transport Research Laboratory, 09/10/13

Implementing graduated driver licensing in Great Britain would save 4,471 casualties and £224 million annually.

Novice drivers in who do not display P-plates are more likely to break traffic rules
Queensland University of Technology, 01/10/13

Novice drivers in New South Wales who do not display P-plates are less likely to obey provisional speed limits and more likely to break traffic rules.

Young drivers who learn to drive through intensive courses report more crashes
SWOV, 16/09/13

43% of young drivers who learned to drive through an intensive course over a few days crashed within the first two years of driving, compared with 26% of young drivers who learned over a longer period.

Young drivers: are they ready for the road?
Co-operative Insurance, 01/08/13

Six in 10 (62%) young drivers in the UK are in favour of a minimum learning period.

UK learner drivers develop some safer attitudes but also some riskier attitudes
Transport Research Laboratory, 26/07/13

UK learner drivers develop safer attitudes to following distance and overtaking by the time they pass their practical test, but riskier attitudes to speeding and thrill seeking.

Unsupervised driving by learner licence holders
University of Otago, 22/07/13

Learner drivers in New Zealand who frequently drive unsupervised are more than twice as likely to crash once fully licensed.

Young drivers are more compliant with GDL restrictions if their parents enforce them
Dunedin School of Medicine, 12/07/13

Young drivers are more likely to comply with graduated driver licensing restrictions if their parents know the restrictions and enforce them.

Requiring young drivers to stay on a learner licence for six months reduces fatal crashes
University of Michigan, 05/07/13

Requiring young drivers to stay on a learner licence for at least six months reduces fatal crashes among young drivers.

Recommended measures to tackle unlicensed driving in Australia
Austroads, 20/06/13

Measures including Automatic Number Plate Recognition and licence checks during roadside alcohol and drug testing would reduce unlicensed driving in Australia.

84% of UK drivers are in favour of a minimum learning to drive period
Brake and Direct Line, 22/05/13

84% of UK drivers are in favour of a minimum learning to drive period to tackle young driver crashes.

New Zealand novice drivers who spent longer on a learner licence have reduced crash risk
Dunedin School of Medicine, 17/05/13

New Zealand novice drivers who spent longer on a learner licence have reduced risk of crashing.

A one-day advanced training course improved motorcyclists’ hazard perception
SWOV, 29/03/13

A one-day advanced training course improved motorcyclists’ hazard perception without encouraging overconfidence.

A simulator study investigating how motorcyclists approach side-road hazards
University of Nottingham, 23/11/12

Motorcyclists with advanced training adopt safer road positions and slower speeds when approaching hazards than experienced bikers without advanced training.

Reducing young driver crash casualties in Great Britain
International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Prevention, 02/10/12

Introducing graduated driver licensing in the UK could prevent 114 deaths and 872 serious injuries per year even if it only achieved 50% compliance.

Pre-licensed driver experience does not reduce crash risk
University of Otago, 02/10/12

Driving experience before learning to drive on a provisional licence does not reduce risk for car drivers once unsupervised driving is allowed and increases crash risk for motorcyclists.

How to make young driver laws even better
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 20/06/12

More than 500 lives could be saved annually in the USA if all states adopted the toughest graduated driver licensing provisions.

Driving locus of control and driving behaviors: Inducing change through driver training
Transportation Research Journal, 24/04/12

Defensive driver training can increase safe driving behaviours.

89% of young UK drivers complete less than 40 hours of driving lessons
RoadSafe, 09/03/12

89% of young UK drivers complete less than the recommended 40 hours of driving lessons before taking their test.

Graduated Driver Licensing reduces crash rates when carrying passengers
The University of Conneticut, 24/01/12

Graduated Driver Licensing reduces crash rates of young drivers carrying passengers by 65% and 53% for 16 and 17 year olds respectively.

Graduated driver licensing reduces number of young driver deaths
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 11/11/11

Graduated driver licensing can reduce fatal crashes involving 16 and 17 year olds by up to 14%, finds this research.

Curfews improve young driver and passenger safety
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, 11/11/11

Night time and passenger driving curfews reduces fatal crashes in young drivers at night or with passengers by 9-10%.

Young driver research program: A technical and strategic overview of exposure reduction
Monash University Accident Research Centre, 21/09/11

Finds crashes involving young drivers could potentially be reduced by reducing young drivers’ exposure, primarily through restrictions on night-time driving.

Police Road Traffic Incidents: A Study of Cases Involving Serious and Fatal Injuries
Independent Police Complaints Commission, 21/09/11

Half English police drivers involved in on-road pursuits ending in death or serious injury have not received advanced driver training, in breach of Association of Chief Police Officers guidelines.

One in 60 young males drivers in crashes that kill and injure every year
Brake, 01/07/11

One young male driver in every 60 experiences a road crash involving the death or injury of themselves, a passenger or another road user each year in Britain.

National Debate on Young Drivers' Safety: Final Report
Transport Scotland, 04/04/11

More than three quarters of young drivers in Scotland would support a minimum period of learning to drive.

Young people's attitudes towards acquiring a driving licence 2002–2009
The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, 15/12/10

Adolescents in Sweden are waiting longer to learn to drive because of concerns for the environment and financial constraints.

Challenges in improving the safety of learner motorcyclists
The Univeristy of Queensland, 22/10/10

Safety education, prior to obtaining a learner permit to ride on the road, is vital for improving learner motorcycle safety.

Restricting young drivers
Cardiff School of Medicine, 24/09/10

Implementing Graduated Driver Licensing could help save up to 200 lives every year and save the UK economy £890million.

Towards understanding the recent large reductions in US road fatalities
The University of Michigan Transport Research Institute, 12/05/10

Lower speeds, air bags and graduated licensing are among factors that explain a 22% decrease in road deaths in US between 2005-2008.

Introduction of GDL reduced crash injuries in New Zealand
Transport Research Laboratory, 03/02/10

Introduction of the GDL system in New Zealand was followed by a 23% reduction in car crash injuries for 15-19 year olds, and a 12% reduction for 20-24 year olds.

The over-representation of young, novice drivers in European fatal road traffic collisions
John Pavett MSC, 12/12/09

Introducing a graduated licencing system in the UK would lead to a significant casualty reduction.

Minimizing impairment-related youth traffic deaths
University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Law, Canada, 27/04/09

Recommends Canadian provinces adopt GDL, a zero blood-alcohol restriction on drivers under 21, and more traffic enforcement.

Reference pending
The Injury Prevention Research Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, 24/02/09

A critical examination of the arguments against raising the car driver licensing age in New Zealand concludes younger drivers are higher risk and the licensing age would benefit from being raised.

Reference pending
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 15/02/09

Sixteen-year-old drivers are involved in 40% fewer crashes if their state has a GDL programme with at least five of seven common components, such as a night-time driving restriction.

Learning to Drive: The Evidence
Department for Transport, UK, 01/05/08

Sets out the evidence on why there is a need to transform the training and testing of drivers, with regards to three key issues.

Road Safety Research Report. A study of learner and new drivers
Department for Transport, 01/05/08

In anticipation of the UK government’s ‘Learning to Drive’ consultation, these reports aim to investigate how people learn to drive, the impact of changes to the testing regime.

Young People’s Forum on Learning to Drive
Driving Standards Agency, 10/01/08

Summary of key ideas during pre-consultation in the UK on a better learning to drive system.

Review of Graduated Driver Licensing
Brake, the road safety charity, 09/01/08

Finds research consistently shows that GDL reduces young driver crashes, deaths and injuries.

Teenagers in Michigan (reference needed)
University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, 09/01/08

Young people are 11% less likely to be killed or injured on roads than their parents were thanks to GDL. Drivers must complete three stages of education and on-road training.

Novice Drivers - 7th report of session, 2006-7
UK Parliament Transport Select Committee, 01/01/07

Calls for GDL including a minimum 12-month learner period; raising the age of unaccompanied driving to 18; a maximum blood alcohol limit of 20mg per 100 ml of blood for up to 12 months after passing.

RAC Report on Motoring 2007: Driving Safely
RAC, 01/01/07

A large proportion of UK drivers support changes to driver training in line with GDL. The survey of 2,029 drivers and group discussions, found 70% support a minimum period of learning.

Young driver accidents in the UK: the influence of age, experience, and time of day.
The University of Nottingham, 05/04/06

Loss of control on curves and crashes in darkness were found to be a particular problem for younger drivers.

Intermediate Driver’s Licence Implementation
Washington transport safety commission, 15/01/06

Annual fatal and serious crashes involving 16 and 17 year-old drivers in the US State of Washington have decreased by 59% since graduated driver licensing began in July 2001.

Review of literature regarding national and international young driver training
Monash University Accident Research Centre, 01/01/05

Suggests on-road driver-training programmes are more useful than classroom-based training (only) and suggests restrictions on young drivers as part of a graduated licensing system.

Graduated driver licensing: effectiveness of systems and individual components
Monash University Accident Research Centre, 01/01/03

Finds overwhelming support for GDL models, including night-time driving and peer passenger restrictions.

The role of experience in learning to drive
Monash University Accident Research Centre, 01/01/03

Finds learner drivers accumulate relatively little driving experience and that they tend to obtain this experience in daytime, fair weather driving.


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