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Young drivers: lessons failed to prepare us for life on the roads

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More than half of young drivers would support the introduction of a minimum learning period, according to a new report.

They said lessons failed to prepare them for life on the roads and want an overhaul of the learning process to better equip the next generation of motorists.

The findings of the report by The Co-operative Insurance come ahead of a Green Paper set to be published later this year outlining government plans on how to tackle the safety of young drivers and cut insurance costs.

The insurer polled 2,000 drivers aged 18 – 30 years old. Almost half (48%) felt unprepared for motorway driving after passing their test and around one in three (29%) found they were not ready for night-time driving. The same number said they were incapable of driving alone after passing their test.

One in seven new young drivers (14%) considered themselves to be ‘unprepared’ to drive at all.

James Hillon, director of general insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said: “A lot of public debate is taking place on how safety can be improved and insurance premiums cut for young drivers, but the views of young motorists themselves are rarely heard.

“Far from being the stereotypical image of the ‘boy-racer’, this study shows that many are not confident to face everyday situations on Britain’s roads in the early years, despite months of lessons. Young people say that the current system fails to prepare them for driving on motorways, on their own or in poor conditions.”

Almost half (44%) of respondents had been involved in a road accident in the early years of driving and 24% said it could have been prevented if they had spent more time learning to drive.

Roads Minister Stephen Hammond said: “Improving young drivers’ safety is a priority for the Government – that is why we have already improved the driving test so that it better reflects real-life conditions on the road, rather than focusing on specific manoeuvres.

“We are also considering a range of options to ensure learners and newly qualified drivers are properly prepared for the road and we will publish our proposals later in the year.”

One in seven (14%) young drivers said they cannot face driving in the rain and one in five (21%) said lessons did not prepare them to drive with passengers.

This lack of confidence has led to young drivers deliberately going out of their way to avoid certain situations including motorway driving (21%) and driving in city centres (19%), while one in 12 (8%) will not turn right at busy junctions.

Despite this, one in 5 of those surveyed (18%) passed their driving test after spending three months or less learning to drive and 50% took six months or less to pass.

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