Where it can go wrong

Professor Frank McKenna in 2010 produced an acerbic review of the success of driver education programmes. He argues that rather than deterring individuals from engaging in the risky behaviour, educational initiatives may make the behaviour seem more attractive or more acceptable, or make individuals think that because they know more about the risks they are better able to handle them. There is no ‘silver bullet’ that will ensure the safe and responsible behaviour of all young drivers.

Several reasons why educational interventions may not be effective are suggested:

  • they are not based on a theoretical framework of behavioural change
  • they assume that people engaging in risky behaviour are unaware of the risk whereas they may decide to engage in these behaviours despite or even because of the risk
  • they are of insufficient duration to achieve long-term change

McKenna concludes that we cannot assume that educational initiatives, however well-intentioned, are effective.

Durkin & Tolmie had this to say on the subject:

Simply providing factual information about risk and safety will make minimal contributions. Concentrating on vehicle handling skills fails to address higher level factors that influence young people approaching the age of learning to drive.

Fergusson et al. (2001) found that drivers aged 18 to 21, whose parents had three or more accidents on their driving records, were 22% more likely to have accidents than were young drivers whose parents had clean records. Young drivers whose parents had a history of driving violations were 38% more likely to have obtained a record for a violation themselves.
It is important to note that these figures suggest that influence could be negative or positive.

Durkin & Tolmie, 2010

Get into Gear attempts to meet this need for young driver education with effective interventions.