2 July, 2004
In Britain, almost 90% of young men think they are ‘good’ or ‘very good’ drivers despite the fact that almost two thirds describe their driving as ‘fast’ and a quarter admit that they are ‘aggressive’. These stark figures have been released by the RAC Foundation, from a survey of 1525 respondents conducted by Max Power magazine.
The report suggests that key safety messages are not being received by young drivers whose perception of their driving ability contrasts starkly with the actual facts.
Road Casualties Great Britain 2002 [Department for Transport statistics] show that the Max Power survey age group [17-24] suffered the highest number of road deaths and serious injuries  of any age group of drivers, or other road users and was more than double the 25-29 driver age group .
The situation is made even worse by the death and serious injury toll among their passengers, with 2290 17-24 year olds suffering fatal or serious injuries in collisions, almost four times as many as the next highest age group.
Closer inspection of the survey results reveals the reason for the discrepancy between perception and reality.
Asked to describe their driving:
- 86% rated themselves as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ drivers
- 73% considered their driving to be ‘controlled’
- 64% felt they were ‘confident’
- 54% felt they were ‘safe’
- 28% felt they were ‘considerate’
- 21% thought themselves ‘patient’
- 62% described their driving as ‘fast’
- 2% described their driving as ‘slow’
- 38% described their driving as ‘risky’ or ‘exhilarating’
- 11% conceded that their driving was ‘dangerous’ or ‘erratic’
- 25% described their driving as ‘aggressive’And
Whilst 80% had no [penalty] points on their licence
20% had 3 or more points, 9% had 9 points, and 6% had been disqualified
Asked what might make them a better driver, only 14% suggested reading the Highway Code. On a much more positive note however, there was widespread recognition of the potential benefits of further driver training with 75% believing that they would be safer drivers, 74% believing that their car insurance would be cheaper, 73% believing that they would be more confident and 44% believing that they would be less likely to have an accident.
Kevin Delaney, RAC Foundation for Motoring Head of Traffic and Road Safety said, “The Max Power survey is very worrying. Not only does it show that many young motorists seriously underestimate the risk to themselves and their passengers, it suggests that they are not influenced by campaigns to reduce their speed. The good news is that young drivers are keen to improve their driving and recognise the importance of more training.
“The survey findings clearly support the RAC Foundation campaign for an education and training based approach to developing responsible driver attitudes, rather than concentrating on enforcement based upon cameras and penal sanctions. Young drivers, especially those who speed, should be offered courses to influence their attitudes and driving habits rather than just penalty points.
“Many teenagers are dying to drive and tragically far too many die whilst they are driving because they over-estimate their ability.”
Source: The RAC Foundation for Motoring