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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

Training Method


Training Method

Two pre-license training methods can be distinguished:

  • Formal pre-license training
  • Informal pre-license training

Effects of formal training

Formal pre-license training is a training in which a candidate driver practices under the supervision of a qualified driving instructor, usually while simultaneously receiving instruction on how to drive and as a part of a structured training process.

Different reviews [4][8][7] have reached the conclusion that formal pre-license driver training is not always effective as a safety measure, as it does not reduce novice drivers' crash rates. At the same time, it must be noted that formal training adds to the cost burden of the learner.

Recent surveys on the content of formal pre-licensed training have shown that current training systems primarily focus on the 'lower order' car driving skills, such as vehicle control and the execution of manoeuvres like overtaking and crossing intersections, while there is a lack of training at a more strategic level, like route finding, and self-assessment of driving skills. It has been hypothesized that including the 'higher levels' in driver training will improve its effectiveness.

Effects of informal training (accompanied driving)

Informal pre-license training is a training in which the candidate practices with an experienced driver in the passenger seat. This option is available in the UK and in Sweden.

Informal driver training is voluntary in many licensing systems, although it is often encouraged by official regulations in order to increase the learner's driving experience prior to solo driving.

In formal training schemes, young drivers often only have about 25 to 40 hours of driving experience when they are licensed for solo driving. Research [10][30] indicates that risks would be greatly reduced if all learner drivers were to acquire much higher levels of pre-license driving experience. However, on its own this measure may not be sufficient as was demonstrated in France, where a similar scheme aimed at increasing pre-license driving experience failed to be effective [28].

Quality of trainer/supervisor

Having well-educated instructors who possess the necessary knowledge and teaching skills covering all the necessary aspects that should be covered in driving training, is vital for a well-functioning system. The EU project MERIT has made an inventory of the standards in the EU countries, and has set guidelines for further improvements. The quality of instructors may lead to success or failure of potentially effective training programmes [5].

In addition, to get good results with an informal pre-licensing system, it is essential that those accompanying the learner (e.g. parents) must be prepared to provide appropriate direction and influence. Some countries have published guidelines for that purpose. Evaluations of the effects of these guidelines have not been made.

Advanced vehicle skills are counterproductive at this stage

Courses concentrating on advanced vehicle control skills like skidding should not be included in driver training for novices, as they may cause a reverse effect of the one pursued. It has been shown that, as a result of these courses, young drivers may be more confident about their abilities to handle a car in very dangerous conditions, which they previously would have avoided [1]. Moreover, it may lead to an illusion of control based on overestimation of the improved skill levels, which in fact are not fully acquired. For instance skid control is a skill that should be extensively practiced, and regularly applied. Use it or loose it. A one day course does not achieve this.