Parents & stereotyping

The communication that risky behaviours are frequent and ‘normal’ may produce exactly the opposite effect to that intended. Telling young drivers that young drivers drive too fast, take unnecessary risks, show off to their friends and peers, or watch each other doing foolish things in cars on ‘YouTube’ places the young person under some pressure to do likewise, whatever their initial inclinations.

Parents as a bad influence

“Parents are an important long-term influence on young drivers’ behaviour, and there is a need to encourage parents to reflect on what messages they send to their children about driving and road safety.” “Children... may form habits that become the backdrop to ... later behaviours on the road. At a very general level, an individual could develop a habit of seeking risk or being cautious; patterns of inattentive behaviour established... may be hard to relinquish when... a driver. Some driving habits may be acquired vicariously through watching one’s parents or other significant drivers" "One overriding task to which pre-driver education should contribute is the fostering of a safety culture with respect to road behaviour, by encouraging parental role modelling, discouraging the association of images of risky driving with masculine identity, and enlisting positive youth attitudes towards driving responsibly.”

Durkin & Tolmie, 2010

Unintended consequences

Telling young drivers that risky driving behaviour is ‘normal’ for their age group may produce exactly the opposite effect to that intended.

“Simply providing people with ‘cold’ information about risky practices is unlikely to lead to substantial changes in behaviour.”

Durkin & Tolmie, 2010.

Telling young drivers that young drivers drive too fast, take risks, and show off to their peers, may place the young person under pressure to do likewise so that they appear 'normal', even if they are naturally inclined to be more cautious.

The Young Driver Problem

The ‘young driver’ problem is actually the ‘some young drivers’ problem:

if 1 in 5 are involved in a collision in the 12 months post-test, 4 in 5 are not.

The former need conversion work, the latter maintenance work.


The Development of Children’s and Young People’s Attitudes to Driving: A Critical Review of the Literature, Durkin, K. & Tolmie, A. (2010). Road Safety Web Publication No. 18. London: Department for Transport.