Young drivers need to learn quicker how to avoid crashes with the most vulnerable road users, according to a new report published by UK road safety charity IAM RoadSmart and TRL.

The report found that while young people learn how to avoid single vehicle loss of control collisions quicker than expected, they learn a lot slower how to deal with vulnerable road users, be safe on the motorway and safely complete low speed manoeuvres.

Titled “Young Novice Driver Collision Types”, the report makes several key recommendations to improve new driver training, particularly in hazard perception around vulnerable road users and around other vehicles. It also underlines the critical importance of gaining driving experience in a wide variety of traffic situations.

“It is really useful to learn more about how young drivers are gaining the experience they need to have a safe driving career,” said Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer. “However, analysing the results, it is vital that government, road safety bodies and the driver instruction industry work together to generate new strategies to target those skills that are not being learned at the fastest rate.

“It also shows that in the formative years of driving, there is clearly a need for post-test training to continue, to build experience that can reduce the number of needless tragedies on our roads.”

The report’s recommendations include:

  • Further research to understand why novice drivers are involved in and learn quickly to avoid single vehicle loss of control type crashes. This can inform the development of targeted interventions and possible training.
  • Consider options for reducing young driver crashes at night (e.g. additional experience gained during the learner phase).
  • Explore the role that advanced hazard perception training might offer in reducing the threat young drivers pose to vulnerable road users.
  • Explore the apparent trend of young drivers’ vehicles being more likely to be hit from the rear. There may be practical, hazard perception or anticipation training that could be of benefit.