7. Discussion of intervention types and recommendations

7. Discussion of intervention types and recommendations

This chapter presents recommendations for improving young driver safety, drawing on the findings of the debate (presented in Chapter 5) and the detailed assessment of options discussed in Chapter 6 and presented in Appendix E. Supporting research evidence and case studies are referred to, where relevant.

Recommendations are categorised as follows:

  • action - implement now
  • collect evidence/evaluate - collect further evaluation evidence (e.g. through pilot initiatives) before determining the scale and nature of implementation on a wider scale, and
  • advocate – encourage others (e.g. the UK Government or the Driving Standards Agency) to take action.

Each recommendation that is accepted will need to be captured in an action plan with lead and support agencies and external partners identified.

7.1 Intervention Type A – Education and training for younger children and pre-drivers

This section discusses recommendations targeted at younger children and pre-drivers, and then examines the use of innovative approaches to getting road safety messages across to young people.

It is important to note that there is currently limited evaluation evidence regarding the long term effectiveness of education interventions for younger children and pre-drivers, apart from evidence cited by Durkin and Tolmie (2010) on early intervention which suggests that children who are exposed to an intervention at an early age (6 to 10 years) could reap benefits in terms of reduced risk taking behaviour by the time they leave school, but that older children (9 to 11 years) are less susceptible. However, while there is little evidence to prove their effectiveness, there is also limited evidence to suggest that they don’t work. While such interventions may not perform ‘conversion’ work on those currently driving or about to drive with bad attitudes they may well do ‘maintenance’ work, supporting and maintaining those whose current orientation is to see good driving as necessarily involving safe driving.

While the road safety stakeholders interviewed demonstrated strong support for evidence-based road safety education, as part of a life-long approach, it was widely acknowledged that these interventions will have little impact on a minority of young drivers (mainly male) who enjoy taking risks.

Younger children and pre-drivers

Most stakeholders emphasised the importance of a life-long approach to learning, including the need for intervention from an early age (Intervention A1). This view is supported by evidence cited by Durkin and Tolmie (2010) as described in the earlier part of section 7.1 Clearly, the content of the intervention and whether it is pursued through the schooling system is important, as are other factors which are likely to influence the child’s attitudes and behaviour.

Road Safety Scotland (RSS) provides free road safety educational resources for schools from early years through to end of secondary school although the use of these in schools is not compulsory and often competes for time in the curriculum with other heath related subjects such as drugs and alcohol misuse.

Recommendation 1 (Action): Continue to encourage a life-long approach to learning in all schools, as part of the Curriculum for Excellence through the provision of free resources and support, to help ensure that all pupils are taught about road safety issues as pedestrians and cyclists, as car passengers, and as future drivers.

Stakeholders from the road safety community have identified a need for pre-driver interventions (Intervention A2) which cover issues surrounding practical aspects of driving, including:

  • non-car options / ‘eco’ facts
  • information on pre-test courses / choosing when and where to learn to drive / choosing an instructor / pros and cons of supervised learning / eco-driving
  • the need for insurance, what it covers, and the availability of policies tailored for young drivers
  • vehicle choice / features that make cars safer / technology options to regulate driving or encourage better driving / legal issues / after test issues and assistance, and
  • risks to young drivers.

They also suggested that coverage of factors which affect the cost of driving may provide a means of effectively engaging with young people.

An important topic is choosing when to learn to drive. Research by Wells et. al. (2008) shows that the longer a young driver waits to learn to drive the more likely it is that he/she will be a safer driver. Methods that delay the onset of driving by law or policy may not be practicable or welcomed by the public, but promulgation of relevant facts to young adults and parents may allow the public to consider these issues for themselves.

Pre-driver interventions need to be carefully designed and fully evaluated, as there is some evidence that they can encourage drivers to take their test earlier than would otherwise be the case (McKenna, 2010a). As most people sit their test at 17 further consideration needs to be given to the timing of such an intervention, recognising that the opportunities for ensuring wide-spread voluntary participation in any education intervention decreases significantly once young people have left school.

A new education resource is currently being prepared by RSS called ‘Get in Gear’, which is designed to assist those who organise pre-driver events for pupils in 5th and 6th years, apprentices and first year university students. The resource will be web-based and aims to provide a toolkit for partners which will enable them to provide the best possible training when organising young driver interventions. It seeks to explain why this approach should be chosen over others, outline best practice by providing access to resources using a ‘shopping basket’ approach which will allow users to select the best solution to specific problems in their own geographical areas. In addition to this optional area, there will be a ‘must do’ section which will emphasise compulsory modules such as training of trainers, evaluation, and links to Curriculum for Excellence.

RSS also provide information for parents and carers of those who are learning to drive. We recommend these should be linked under the same brand and the resource should also include information for employers.

Feedback from the debate suggests that young people are fairly ambivalent about education interventions, suggesting a need for innovative approaches encompassing classroom-based, theatre-style, and online resources such as e-learning materials. There is also a danger of information overload, requiring interventions to be carefully planned.

Many young people, parents, and stakeholders identified the ‘Safe Drive Stay Alive’ intervention (see Appendix A), and other similar interventions (Intervention A2), as being particularly effective in making young people think about the consequences of unsafe driving behaviour. However, concerns have been raised within the road safety community (McKenna, 2010a) about the effectiveness of this type of intervention in delivering casualty reduction benefits. Research also suggests that these type of interventions can cause emotional damage (where participants have friends or relatives who have been involved in serious or fatal conditions), can present bad behaviour as ‘normal’, and for some individuals, can increase the attractiveness of risk-taking activities by raising awareness about the risks involved. A number of young people suggested that these interventions would have more relevance if received once the young person has real experience of driving. We recommend that further evidence is collected regarding the potential benefits of delivering this as a post-test rather than a pre-test intervention, recognising that strong incentives will be needed to encourage young drivers to attend.

Recommendation 2 (Collect evidence/Evaluate): Collect further evidence on the benefits of a broad range of education and training interventions, delivered before and while young people learn to drive. Interventions ‘tested’ should include:

  • those covering practical aspects of driving, such as choosing whether, when, where and how to learn to drive, vehicle choice and the role of safety features, and information about eco-driving and insurance, and
  • hard-hitting one off interventions such as Safe Drive Stay Alive.

We recommend that pilot interventions are developed using Road Safety Scotland’s new toolkit resource for young driver interventions, ‘Get in Gear’.

Innovative approaches to getting road safety message across

Use of new media such as social websites, discussion forums and mobile phone downloads (Intervention A3) is now being used by a range of organisations (including the DSA, see Appendix A) to provide road safety messages. In Scotland, Road Safety Scotland has made use of the Xbox gaming platform to target road safety messages and Lothian and Borders Police has used Bluetooth technology to warn people in pubs not to drink and drive. These types of media are commonly used by young people, on a regular basis, and could provide an effective means of getting road safety messages across to young people alongside more traditional approaches such as TV and cinema adverts and classroom-based education interventions. A potential location for road safety advertising and information is the insurance comparison websites. However, further evidence is required about their long term effectiveness in terms of reducing road casualties.

Road safety stakeholders, parents and other older persons generally see these approaches as essential means to engaging with young people. However, a substantial proportion of young people felt that these approaches are an inappropriate use of social media. Typical comments were that these sites are for socialising not learning, are likely to be ignored, and risk alienating some young people some of whom viewed messages as ‘patronising and intrusive.’ Other risks include misuse by certain types of drivers (with competitions to report or record the most dangerous driving practices), exposure of younger children to hard hitting adverts, information overload and dilution of road safety messages, due to difficulties in targeting messages appropriately. While there is a role for limited and targeted use of new media, there still appears to be a role for more traditional memorable television and cinema adverts.

Trials should target different age groups, from young children up to 25 year olds, and beyond. Evidence collected in this debate suggests that use of social networking websites should be limited and targeted, and used to provide messages which would not be harmful if received by a younger audience.

Specific interventions which could be developed include alerts about the adverse weather conditions in the local area and tips about how to drive in these conditions; and online interactive hazard awareness games (or ‘apps’) with leagues to encourage participation and competition; and learning to drive applications or games. These interventions were popular suggestions amongst young people, and are in keeping with concerns raised.

Recommendation 3 (Collect evidence/Evaluate): Collect further evaluation and evidence, through trials and pilots, to determine the effectiveness road safety messages using a range of innovative approaches, including e-learning methods, computer gaming environments, and web-based applications and downloads.

Trials should target different age groups, from young children up to 25 year olds, and beyond. Evidence collected in this study suggests that use of social networking websites should be limited and targeted, and used to provide messages which would not be harmful if received by a younger audience. Subject to the findings, consider delivering these type of interventions more widely, alongside more traditional approaches used to provide road safety education.

7.2 Intervention Type B – Education, training and testing for learner and novice drivers

This section presents recommendations relating to the current test and post test driver training.

Current test

There was general agreement from the road safety community that the current test does not prepare drivers sufficiently and widespread recognition amongst young people of the need for experience in a wide range of driving conditions during the initial learning and testing period or as part of a post-test intervention.

Regulating the learning environment (Intervention B1), involving a minimum period of learning or training and use of a log book29, represents one option for addressing these issues; and was opposed by only 26% of young males and 10% of young females (based on survey results). This approach would provide more opportunities to experience a range of driving conditions in a supervised environment and would delay the age for solo driving; both of which have been shown to reduce casualties30.

In addition, evidence from around the world suggests that pre-licence driving practice reduces post-licence driving risk (OECD and ECMT, 2006). The report concludes that "post-licensing driving risks would be greatly reduced if all learner drivers were to acquire much higher levels of pre-licensing driving experience", but found that formal pre-licence driver training with a qualified driving instructor is not consistently effective as a safety measure. This does not mean that formal training has no value, but that traditional training methods focus primarily on creating drivers who are technically competent and able to pass the driving test. The report concludes that in order to create safe drivers, training should focus on self-assessment, and on teaching an understanding of the factors that contribute to risk (Intervention B3). It should be noted, however, that much of the evidence used in the report comes from schemes where learner drivers are aged 15 or 16.

However, there is no guarantee that learners will practice more if a minimum learning period is introduced or practice in different conditions. There is also a risk that more young people will drive without a licence and undertake no formal training, increasing their accident risk.

Strengthening the practical driving test so that it tests driving in a wider range of conditions (Intervention B2), represents an alternative approach; but is less popular, particularly amongst young females, and presents practical challenges in terms of testing drivers in different conditions.

Both approaches represent a significant change to the current system (which is reserved to the UK Parliament and administered through the Driving Standards Agency and Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency) and would be opposed by many young drivers due to a potential increase in the cost of learning to drive (due to the need for more training, longer lessons, and more re-tests).

Recommendation 4 (Advocate): Encourage the Driving Standards Agency to review the case for a minimum period of learning and a requirement to demonstrate experience in different driving conditions via a log book or practical assessments, in no more than five years time. If this is not considered at a UK level, explore how this could be taken forward in Scotland, if trends in the scale and nature of young driver casualties continue to cause concern and there is evidence that other interventions being implemented will not deliver the level of improvement required.

Young people report that the quality of instruction varies between Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs); that ADIs vary in terms of the range of driving conditions (including weather conditions and urban/rural driving) that they are willing to expose their pupils to and the level of information and advice provided on gaining further training. A requirement for ADIs to undertake Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training (Intervention B5) would raise the standard and consistency of training provided across all instructors so that young drivers are more prepared for driving on Scotland’s roads.

Recommendation 5 (Advocate): Feed into the work of the Driving Standards Agency to develop a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) intervention and encourage or require Approved Driving Instructors (ADIs) to participate in additional training. The intervention should seek to improve the dissemination of appropriate information from ADI to pupil in relation to future risks, attitudes and availability of post-test assistance.

Post- test driver training

Increasing participation in post-test training interventions (Intervention B4) represents another approach, which could address concerns about the adequacy of the current test to prepare drivers sufficiently to cope with conditions on the roads.

The OECD and ECMT (2006)31 report that post-licence training can have both positive and negative effects on driver safety. Negative effects occur when training focuses on vehicle control skills such as skidding, possibly because young drivers become over-confident about their ability to handle a car in dangerous conditions, which they would previously have avoided. A number of studies (e.g. Keskinen et al., 1992; Gregersen, 1996; and Engstrom et al., 2003)32 have concluded that post-test training should focus on risk awareness issues, including improving knowledge, experience and recognition of dangers (Intervention B3), rather than vehicle control.

Young drivers are open to gaining more driving experience after passing their test but specific concerns were raised about the effectiveness of Pass Plus. Road safety stakeholders commented that it is often delivered in one day rather than over an extended period, focuses on how rather than why, can be treated as a ‘tick box’ exercise, and has not been subject to any formal evaluation. Young people also queried the quality of tuition provided and questioned the financial benefits in terms of reduced premiums. The case for making Pass Plus compulsory in its current form is therefore weak. There are also practical difficulties in requiring young drivers to demonstrate competence in coping with certain road conditions including motorways and box junctions, which do not exist in some rural parts of Scotland.

Again, cost is a key concern. Incentives which reduce the cost of driving, including real discounts on insurance premiums33 or subsidised petrol, would make post-test training interventions more attractive to young drivers.

Most post-test driver training options currently available to young drivers in Scotland have not been fully evaluated. We therefore recommend that evaluation evidence is collected on the effectiveness of undertaking post-test training, as part of a holistic life-long approach to learning. Evaluation evidence currently being collected by the DSA on the effectiveness of its new Attitude Advisor tool (Appendix A) will form an important part of the evidence base.

Young drivers and parents could then be made aware of the range of evaluated and recommended post-test training interventions available when applying for their test. Financial incentives could be offered to those who ‘sign-up’ before taking their test. This approach would seek to encourage quick uptake of training post-test and would ensure decisions are made when parents are likely to be most able to influence a young person’s driving decisions and behaviour.

Feedback from young people suggests that those most at risk (including persistent driving offenders) are unlikely to undertake additional post-test training unless it becomes mandatory, for example, as a condition for obtaining a full licence (similar to Austria’s ‘multiphase education’ approach, described in Appendix A). While there would be concerns about the cost, the findings from this debate suggest that most young people and other members of the public would appreciate the benefits of such an approach.

The opportunities for ensuring wide-spread voluntary participation in any education intervention decrease significantly once young people have left school, suggesting a need to link participation in some way to applying for or passing the theory or practical test, on a voluntary or mandatory basis. One longer term option could be to change the physical method of issuing the first full licence and require newly qualified drivers to attend a short training intervention before receiving the paper licence (two to three weeks after passing the test)34. This would allow a period of reflection post-test and would provide an opportunity to discuss the responsibilities of becoming a qualified driver. Feedback from young people indicates that many would not attend these types of interventions unless they were mandatory.

Recommendation 6 (Collect evidence/Evaluate): Evaluate the effectiveness of undertaking post-test training, as part of a holistic life-long approach to learning. Investigate the effectiveness of accreditations for post-test training courses to encourage insurers to offer lower insurance premiums (representing a real discount) for young drivers who have taken effective action to improve their safety. Consider whether financial incentives would be effective in persuading young drivers to take up evaluated post-test training.

7.3 Intervention Type C – Graduated driver licensing and licence restrictions

This section presents recommendations relating to graduated driver licensing and the drink drive limit.

Graduated driver licensing

Graduated licensing seeks to minimise or remove exposure to risks, particularly those relating to lifestyle issues (e.g. peer pressure, passenger distraction, social driving at night), driving in difficult conditions (e.g. night driving), and inadequate control of high performance vehicles.

There was strong support for some form of graduated licensing (Intervention C1 – C5) amongst the road safety community, linked to both age and experience, however there are concerns about the practicalities of enforcing such a scheme given the limited resources available to the police, and the fact that drivers are not currently required to carry identification. Those who were less supportive considered that training and education initiatives would provide a better approach for all. They also highlighted concerns that the benefits derived from schemes in other countries may not be transferable to a Scottish context.

The OECD and ECMT (2006) report that most evaluations of graduated licences undertaken to date have reported ‘significant reductions in crashes and fatalities’, but with wide variations in effectiveness. The effectiveness of the previous licensing system is an important factor, as is the number and type of GDL elements. A number of studies demonstrate the casualty benefits of night time and passenger restrictions, for example:

  • Senserrick and Whelan (2003) cite a number of studies identifying substantial benefits for night time driving restrictions
  • Vlakved (2004) reports that the presence of friends in the vehicle has been shown to have an adverse influence on young drivers’ driving style, while the presence of parents has been found to have a positive influence
  • Chen et al. (2000) found that for 16 and 17 year old drivers in the North America, the risk of death doubled when taking three passengers compared with one, at all times of the day, and
  • research published by Cardiff University (Jones and Palmer, 2010) estimates that the introduction of a GDL in the UK involving restrictions of carrying passengers and driving at night for those aged 17 to 19 could save more than 200 lives and result in 1,700 fewer serious injuries each year.

Casualty reduction recorded in the US following implementation of GDL systems has been attributed, in some part, to the increased participation of parents. Simons-Morton (2007) reports that stricter state restrictions have made parents more aware of the risks involved in novice driving due to stricter state restrictions. The approach has also empowered parents to apply their own rules.

Young people involved in the debate were generally opposed to graduated licensing options involving restrictions on vehicle use (i.e. night use, passenger numbers) though not, apart from a quarter of the young male drivers, on vehicle performance. In some forms, these vehicle use options place unfair restrictions on most safe drivers; limit employment, social and educational opportunities (particularly those in rural areas); and do not address the need for more experience and training in more challenging driving conditions. While exemptions for work, education, and other non-recreational driving could be introduced, it is difficult to see how such an approach could be effectively policed.

Restrictions on driving high performance cars would be most acceptable to young drivers, partly because these vehicles are unaffordable to most and also because there is perceived to be a clear link to road safety benefits. The OECD and EMCT report (2006) however, is sceptical about the safety benefits of this approach suggesting that the riskiest drivers tend to choose the most powerful cars, but are also most likely to have an accident regardless of the type of vehicle they are driving. Furthermore, lower performance cars often have poorer safety features.

A requirement to display P, R or N plates for a probationary period is seen as more tolerable by young people, but the road safety benefits are unclear to many. However, use of these types of plates could help to enforce any GDL intervention.

Young drivers are open to gaining more driving experience after passing their test and recognise the benefits of doing so. Relaxing restrictions for those who volunteer for post-test training would increase the attractiveness of a GDL scheme for most young people, and address concerns that graduated licensing on its own does not address the need for more experience and training in more challenging driving conditions. The possibility of requiring young drivers to undertake post-test training whether on-road, classroom or e-learning as part of the GDL scheme (similar to Austria’s ‘multiphase education’ approach) should also be considered.

Perhaps not surprisingly, parents, carers and others involved in the debate were far more supportive of most graduated licensing options, and felt that a probationary period would allow young people to gain experience and develop their skills in less challenging conditions and/or in potentially safer vehicles. Stakeholders from the road safety community also considered that some form of graduated licensing approach would be an effective measure for reducing the number of young drivers killed and seriously injured on Scotland’s roads.

In general, opposition to the proposed interventions reduces with age (including from 17 to 20 years to 21 to 25 years) and most options would be supported by the majority of drivers on the road. Table 7.1 shows the level of opposition to licensing constraints and restrictions, including ‘a harder driving test for all’ and a ‘minimum period of training/practice before learners can take a practical driving test’.

Table 7.1 – % of survey respondents who drive and are ‘unsupportive’ or ‘very unsupportive’ of restrictions on licensing



Young people
(17–20 yrs)

Young people
(21–25 yrs)

Parents, carers and others
(>25 yrs)

A ban on driving AT NIGHT









A ban on driving AT NIGHT unless accompanied by a passenger over the age of 21 who has a held a full licence for 3+ years









A limit on the number of passengers in the vehicle, aged 16-25, DURING THE DAY









A limit on the number of passengers in the vehicle, aged 16-25, AT NIGHT









Do you think there should be a probationary period for newly qualified drivers?









Compulsory use of P Plates









Support for a harder driving test for all









A ban on driving high performance cars









Support for a minimum period of training/practice before learners can take a practical driving test









Note – Those without a licence are excluded from this analysis. The results may therefore differ slightly to those presented in Chapter 5.

These specific proposals are discussed in the previous section but could be incorporated within a GDL scheme. From midway down the table, generally there are less than 50% of young drivers against: restrictions relating to a probationary period for newly qualified drivers, use of P Plates, a harder driving test, a ban on driving high performance cars, and a minimum period of training/practice before learners can take a practical driving test.

The introduction of a GDL scheme in Scotland would represent a radical step that would be strongly opposed by many young drivers, and would be at odds with the recommendations in the Calman Report on Scottish Devolution (Commission on Scottish Devolution, 2009) that driver licensing and the standard of driving expected from those using the integrated road network of Great Britain should remain a responsibility of the UK Government. The Scottish Government does not have devolved powers in relation to driver testing and licensing.

It should be recognised that, in the short to medium term, the background of other interventions in Scotland and across the rest of Great Britain is not static and it may be premature to attempt to implement radical change whilst other ideas are being ‘tested’. For example recent changes to the driving test and the new DSA competency framework have not yet had time to mature.

A GDL approach could deliver significant benefits and the evidence supporting the effectiveness of such an approach is stronger than for most safety interventions considered in the debate.

Recommendation 7 (Collect evidence/Evaluate): Gather evidence to help consider whether and, if so, how graduated licensing could be implemented in Scotland. Consideration should be given to how this could be implemented in a manner that secure approval from young and inexperienced drivers, while still being effective in reducing the number of young drivers killed and seriously injured on Scotland’s roads. The possibility of requiring young drivers to undertake post-test training as part of the GDL scheme (similar to Austria’s ‘multiphase education’ approach), or relaxing restrictions for those who volunteer for post-test training, should be considered.

Drink drive limit

There is consensus amongst the road safety community, many young people, parents and others that there should be a lower drink drive limit for all and not just young drivers (Intervention C6). All groups perceive a clear link between stricter limits and road safety benefits. Allowing drivers to drink more when they reach a certain age would send out the wrong message about drink driving and would not address the problem amongst older drivers. ‘Zero tolerance’ would remove temptations to drink moderately and address uncertainty about safe drinking levels, but questions were raised about whether ‘zero tolerance’ is practical or enforceable.

These views are consistent with the findings of the North Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law (North, 2010), which concluded that while there is a strong case for a lower limit for the first five years of driving (based on evidence that inexperienced drivers may be more affected by the adverse effects of alcohol and at lower levels), there are real policing difficulties with age related provision and singling out novice drivers fails to address the issue that the most problematic group of young drivers are those in their mid twenties35. However, the report recommended that the Government should review the situation after five years and, if the anticipated casualty reductions in that population do not materialise, consideration should then be given to introducing a limit of 20 mg/100 ml for those drivers. The overall recommendation of the report was that the current prescribed blood alcohol limit of 80 mg / 100 ml of blood should be reduced to 50 mg / 100 ml for all drivers, but should not be reduced to 20 mg/100 ml as such a change in the UK would risk the loss of public support for strengthening drink drive legislation.

Recommendation 8 (Action): Introduce a lower drink drive limit in Scotland for all drivers. The Scottish Government should develop an action plan for introducing appropriate legislation once the Scotland Bill has been passed.

7.4 Intervention Type D – Enforcement and restorative justice

There was strong support for introducing driver awareness courses for young drivers caught committing certain driving offences (Intervention D1),amongst all groups involved in the debate. Many young people would see this as preferable to penalty points suggesting high uptake, but evidence would need to be collected to determine the impact on casualty rates36. A number of young people thought that awareness courses should be in addition to penalty points.

Recommendation 9 (Collect evidence/Evaluate): Undertake a trial and evaluation of an optional road safety awareness course for young driver offenders, as an alternative to a Fixed Penalty Notice and penalty points. Significant experience exists in England to develop this intervention (e.g. Thames Valley Young Driver Scheme, which uses a cost-effective online approach).

Post-court education interventions (Intervention D2) represent a possible option for influencing the behaviour of serious offenders. The Road Safety Act 2006 (covering England and Wales) makes legal provision for a ‘post-court educational intervention’ for four serious traffic offences relating to speeding, careless and inconsiderate driving, ignoring traffic signs, and using a special road contrary to scheme or regulation. Similar legal provisions to those contained in the Road Safety Act 2006 would need to be applied in Scotland before more general post court courses could be offered. On completion of a course, offenders could be offered a reduction or deletion of their endorsement points or disqualification period. In anticipation of the possibility of new courses in England and Wales, the DfT commissioned qualitative research to examine the likely effectiveness of this type of interventions (Beuret and Chorlton, 2010). The report, however, was sceptical about the effectiveness of this type of intervention concluding that "the worst offenders will refuse the offer because of their preference for alternative penalties (in part resulting from their opinion of themselves as skilled drivers, being able to overcome disadvantages of disqualification, and seeing disqualification as worth it to lose points)".

There was a strong consensus amongst police and wider road safety community that increased police presence and intervention encourages safer driving. Targeted police enforcement (Intervention D3 and D4) is important in influencing the behaviour of those most at risk and identifying those who persist in driving recklessly, but is likely to be constrained by levels of available funding.

Recommendation 10 (Action): Ensure police enforcement continues to be a priority and is undertaken in a strategic and targeted manner, focusing on young drivers most at risk.

This might include more night patrols, working with organisations which employ a large number of young people driving for work, building relationships with ‘cruisers’, and sending warning letters to young drivers spotted breaking the law (e.g. speeding, or using a mobile phone while driving) by off-duty police officers.

A number of stakeholders identified the need to amend existing legislation to make not wearing a seat-belt an endorsable offence (Intervention D5). While we are unaware of any evaluation evidence to demonstrate the effectiveness of strengthening seatbelt legislation on driver behaviour, the DfT has identified lack of seat belt wearing as one of five key factors associated with collisions involving younger and older drivers (DfT 2008a). In addition, non-use of seatbelts is a contributory factor in collisions related to social driving at night and weekends, particularly in the context of passengers travelling in the rear seats (Institute of Advanced Motorists, 2008). This intervention requires discussion with the DSA and the UK Government to determine the likelihood of changes being implemented at a GB-wide level. The Scottish Government does not have devolved powers in relation to seatbelt legislation and a change to legislation in Scotland only would not be consistent with recommendations in the Calman Report that the standard of driving expected from those using the integrated road network of Great Britain should remain a UK Government responsibility.

Recommendation 11 (Advocate): Continue to press the UK Government to make not wearing a seat-belt an endorsable offence which could result in penalty points on a driver’s licence and a fine for passengers (as in Northern Ireland), in the context of all drivers.

7.5 Intervention Type E – Use of technology

Technologies to regulate driving or encourage better driving

Road safety stakeholders recognised the potential benefits of technology based interventions which seek to regulate driving or encourage better driving e.g. data-recorders, speed limiters, alcolocks (Intervention E1), but considered the opportunities for changing behaviour and driving style to be limited. Young people showed moderate to strong support for these types of interventions, particularly if they encouraged insurance companies to offer cheaper insurance. Voluntary take-up is likely to be limited, but a mandatory requirement for young drivers to install this type of technology would be seen as too much of a ‘big brother’ approach by most. In addition it is likely that drivers most at risk will find ways around the technology.

The impact these technologies on casualty numbers is poorly understood within a UK context, and we recommend that further evaluation evidence is collected.

Recommendation 12 (Collect evidence/Evaluate): Undertake separate pilot projects for use of speed limiting technology and black box data recorders, and evaluate the interventions. These could be based on voluntary participation or could involve working with a public body and installing the technology in all vehicles driven by young people for a work purpose.

Technologies that make cars safer

Young drivers may be more cognisant of technologies that make cars safer (e.g. air bags, sat-navs, adaptive cruise control, anti-lock braking systems, etc.), and open to suggestion when purchasing a vehicle.

Research suggests that understanding of the use and role of technologies that make cars safer (e.g. anti-lock braking systems, etc.) (Intervention E1) is poorly understood. Research with DfT’s Citizens’ Panel for Road Safety (DfT, 2010) shows very poor public appreciation of the importance of these features when purchasing vehicles. When asked about European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP), almost two-thirds were not aware of this scheme, which provides consumers with information on the safety of different cars by using a star rating system. There was little appreciation of specific car safety features or the manufacturers’ safety record as issues that the public would investigate before purchasing a car. Greater awareness of EuroNCAP and other safety features could drive the market quicker than the present commercial led model.

In addition, some people wrongly believe that air bags are always sufficient to protect them in an accident, and that wearing a seatbelt as well is unnecessary. Young men are prominent amongst drivers not wearing a seat-belt (DfT, 2008b).

In-car safety features have contributed to reduced casualties in recent years. We therefore recommend that young people are made more aware of the role of new and existing technologies which make cars safer, as part of education and training interventions targeted at pre-drivers, learners and newly qualified drivers (see Recommendations 2 and 6).

7.6 Intervention Type F – Encouragement and leadership, including incentives and working with the private sector

Role of the insurance industry

Real discounts on insurance, to reduce the cost of driving, are seen as the most effective approach for incentivising young drivers to take-up further training or education. However, the cost of insurance is prohibitive to many young drivers and substantial discounts would be required to encourage some young people not to drive uninsured. The scope for insurers to offer significant discounts is currently limited by other commercial pressures and lack of evidence about the impact of additional training interventions on insurance claims.

Free or subsidised training interventions would be attractive to those with a genuine desire to become better drivers (who probably already represent a lower insurance risk). However, they are unlikely to be effective across the majority of young drivers unless associated with rewards which reduce the cost of driving (e.g. subsidised petrol).

Hard to reach groups, including high risk takers, are likely to require more targeted interventions such as awareness or rectification courses for young drivers. Image remains a problem, and unless further training is compulsory or ‘cool’ it will be difficult to attract those most at risk.

We recommend that the Scottish Government investigate the effectiveness of accreditations for post-test training courses to encourage insurers to offer lower insurance premiums (offering real discounts) for young drivers who have taken effective action to improve their safety. This is covered in Recommendation 6 on post-test training. Road Safety Scotland’s new Get in Gear education resource may include some form of accreditation scheme for new interventions.

Role of the employer

The following recommendations build on the work of RoSPA’s Young Drivers at Work Report (RoSPA, 2009) and issues raised by road safety stakeholders.

While support was generally high across all male and female survey respondents (61% for females, 78% for males), only 39% of young male drivers aged 21 to 25 years supported the proposal for greater recognition of additional driving qualifications by employers requiring young people to drive at work. This may reflect concerns about reduced employment opportunities. While this wouldn’t be a popular intervention amongst those most likely to be effected, these results suggest that this approach would provide an effective incentive for young people with real implications in terms of employment opportunities.

Recommendation 13 (Action): Work with employers to improve the safety of young drivers at work. In particular, we recommend that the Scottish Government:

  • raises awareness amongst employers regarding their role in young driver safety and provide guidance on how they can best perform this role, drawing on RoSPA’s Young Driver at Work project
  • raises awareness of the safety, environmental and financial benefits of eco-driving, and use of data recorders in vehicles used to drive for work
  • encourages employers to recognise additional driver training qualifications
  • ensures all tenderers for Scottish Government contracts have a Managing Occupational Road Risk (MORR) policy in place, with a focus on young drivers - the use of MORR policies is a legal requirement so this should not place a high burden on industry - a further recommendation is to measure the quality of such policies in tender evaluation methods so as to sharpen the industry’s approach, and
  • holds discussions with the Health and Safety Executive to discuss possible approaches including developing existing HSE Guidance Notes for employers, giving greater emphasis to young driver issues; encouraging risk assessments for young drivers; and application of RIDDOR to young driver collisions.

Role of parents and carers

The valuable role of parents and carers in influencing driving behaviour and attitudes, and supporting young drivers, was stressed by most stakeholders. The parental role was identified as an under-used resource which could be effective pre- and immediately post-test.

Parents see their role as instilling safe driving behaviour, and supporting and supervising learning. Post-test, their role is viewed as more limited, particularly if young people pay for their car, insurance and petrol.

Stakeholders identified a need for greater awareness amongst parents and those supervising learner drivers about their role (Intervention F7). This should cover: the safety benefits of delaying learning to drive; how to prepare for, structure and undertake practice sessions; advise on purchasing a vehicle; encouraging post-test training and parental involvement post-test (including ongoing advice and setting restrictions and guidelines).

These views are supported by wider research. As highlighted above, evidence from around the world indicates that pre-licence driving practice reduces post-licence driving risk (OECD and ECMT, 2006). This suggests that learners will benefit from gaining as much supervised practice as possible while they are learning to drive. Graham (2004) reports that parents place emphasis on themselves to teach their children the necessary driving skills, but that they often lack the important road user knowledge required to do so. Graham also provides evidence that young people can pick up bad habits from their parents. Simon-Morton and Hartos (2003) found that many parents are not involved in their children’s driving much beyond the date that they pass their test.

The use of continuous data recorders to enable driving behaviour to be reviewed and discussed afterwards (such as the GreenRoad Safety Centre – see Appendix A.6) which forms part of Staffordshire’s Young Driver Coaching Programme) is likely to be a useful tool for some parents and young people, but limited in uptake. As the cost of these units comes down over the next few years, it is likely that the number of insurance products offering lower premiums for drivers using recorders as part of a parental coaching initiative will increase.

Parent-young person agreements, representing a signed commitment from both parties to abide by a set of negotiated promises, could be used to control exposure to risk during the first few months of driving, when collision risk is high37. However, feedback from the debate suggests that ‘buy-in’ from parents and young people would be variable, and would not address the safety of young drivers in the highest risk group. Use of data recorders as part of such an approach would be seen by many young people as undermining issues of trust between parents and young people.

We recommend that the Scottish Government raises awareness amongst parents regarding their role in young driver safety and how they can best perform this role. Possible approaches might include raising awareness of on-line resources available (e.g. Road Safety Scotland’s ‘So, Your Teenager is Learning to Drive leaflet and RoSPA’s website - www.helpingldrivers.co.uk ); through schools’ links with parents, through Approved Driving Instructors, and by mailing information to all parents with a 16 year old child; by encouraging the police and local authorities to provide education interventions for parents; and by encouraging insurers to provide guidance on the role that parents can play.

Recommendation 14 (Action): Raise awareness amongst parents regarding their role in young driver safety and how they can best perform this role, highlighting resources already available (e.g. Road Safety Scotland’s ‘So, Your Teenager is Learning to Drive leaflet) and providing advice on parent-young driver agreements.

Role of central and local government

Trains and buses are safe modes in comparison to travel by car, and greater use of these options by young people will lead to both safety and environmental benefits. However, feedback from the focus groups with young people suggests substantial improvements are required across Scotland to encourage mode switch from car to bus or train or even to discourage mode switch from bus or train to car, particularly in rural areas. The number of young people choosing not to drive may be low unless there are attractive alternatives available using other modes.

Recommendation 15 (Action): In consultation with service users, improve public transport availability at night, in conjunction with ‘reduce mileage/don’t travel’ messages, focused on locations where there are high numbers of young driver casualties and limited public transport provision.

7.7 Further overarching recommendations

Two further sets of recommendations are proposed relating to the overarching issues of evaluation and funding.

Evaluation evidence

Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020 recognises the need for sound evaluation evidence to ensure that actions taken are effective in helping to reduce road deaths and serious injuries. This requirement underpins all of the options identified above.

At present there is insufficient evidence to compare the effectiveness of the options considered in this report in a consistent manner. The Scottish Government has indicated that it will consider, with partners, local pilots of initiatives for evaluation and promulgation of results across Scotland. Any interventions taken forward will need to be supported by an appropriately funded evaluation approach.

Recommendation 16 (Action): Encourage better governance and evaluation of interventions. Ensure that road safety education and awareness interventions are based on scientific theory and evidence of effectiveness, and represent good value for money.

Alongside, or as part of RSS’s Get in Gear Project, the Scottish Government, in partnership with road safety organisations, should support and encourage:

  • evidence-based interventions, drawing on the BURSE38 portal being developed by DfT and other means of sharing best practice / lessons learned
  • evaluation of interventions, with reference to the E-VALU-IT online toolkit developed by DfT and RoSPA, and
  • reduced duplication of effort where different organisations are developing different initiatives.

The Scottish Government should also:

  • ensure interventions don’t normalise bad behaviour, and
  • prepare guidance on how to design road safety education interventions for young people, both pre- and post-qualification, reflecting recent research.

Improvements to published data on annual young driver casualties could include:

  • inclusion of single-vehicle accident data for young drivers
  • ensuring consistency in data presentation such that the key age range 17 to 25 and appropriate sub categories (e.g. 17 to 20, 21 to 25) are consistently used, and
  • including time of day data and passenger casualty information.

A scoping exercise would need to be carried out to understand the cost and time of providing more comprehensive data in the annual publication of "Reported Road Casualties Scotland", considering the limitations of the STATS19 system of reporting.


Given the current pressures on public spend, it is recognised that resources available for implementing these interventions will be limited and that funding from additional sources may be required. One potential source is Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) charged on car insurance premiums for all drivers. It is estimated that only a marginal increase in the chargeable rate would be necessary to fund significant programmes of work, due to the current high total value of insurance premiums (in excess of £11 billion annually across Great Britain). This concept requires further investigation, particularly as this tax is currently administered by Westminster and given the general avoidance of hypothecated taxes within the UK.

Recommendation 17 (Action): Explore the possibility of using Insurance Premium Tax as a mechanism to raise revenue to fund road safety interventions.