Parents & Stereotyping

“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.”

Parents as a bad influence

[Children] “can scarcely form driving habits before they begin to drive, but they may form habits that become the backdrop to some of their 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 during childhood may be hard to relinquish when one becomes a driver. Some driving habits may be acquired vicariously through watching one’s parents or other significant drivers … Parents should be reminded about the impact of their own habits. … 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.

Helping parents to be a good influence

RoSPA’s Helping L Drivers website (for parents)

RoSPA has developed an online resource to help parents and carers to ensure that learner drivers get the most benefit from their learning period.

The website includes links to various free resources aimed at parents of learner drivers. These include:

Helping Young People Learn To Drive - This small booklet summarises the information which can be found on the website about how best to supervise a learner during private practice. It also covers issues, such as how to prepare a car and a route and what happens after the test Safer Driving: Parents and Young Drivers - This give facts and information about risks to young
drivers and how you can draw up an agreement between parent and young driver designed to minimise risk through adherence to certain conditions. It includes an example of such an agreement.

New driver evenings (for learners and parents)

In some areas there is a commitment to invite parents to attend, along with young drivers. Most young drivers bring one or two parents along, and the evenings typically attract an audience of 40 to 50. Organisers report that excellent responses have been received from parents.

Staffordshire Young Driver Coaching Programme Resource Pack (for learners and parents)

The Young Driver Coaching Programme Resource Pack (YDCP) was devised by
Staffordshire County Council’s Road Safety Unit and launched in August 2009. It consists of a learner driver’s record book and a supervising driver’s information guide. Both are intended to be used in conjunction with an Approved Driving Instructor (ADI).

The driver’s record book is broken down into ten key skills which the instructor dates and signs when in their opinion the learner is ready to cover that skill in private practice sessions.

The supervising driver’s information guide is divided into short colour-coded sections on specific skills ranging from moving off, to hazards, and eco driving techniques. An evaluation of the early months of the project was commissioned by the Council’s Road Safety Unit. In the first four months of the project, seventeen families signed up including eight male and nine female learners. The Resource Pack helped to more effectively structure private practice sessions as the driver’s record book gave parents a greater idea of their
learners’ progress.

Only one-quarter of potential ADIs agreed to participate in the scheme. Some did not respond to approaches, others considered themselves too busy. Some learners were prevented from participating because they lacked a supervising driver or a suitable car for private practice.

The enthusiasm of parents was crucial to the recruitment process. Many parents were not interested in being responsible for teaching their learner to drive, or were interested in supervising but not in committing to the YDCP Resource Pack. Some parents reported that the overall size and apparent demands of involvement were a deterrent, but that, once involved, the scheme was considered manageable.

Cheshire’s ‘Going Solo’ website (for parents)

Cheshire Safer Road Safety Partnership has produced ‘Going Solo’, an on-line resource for parents of newly qualified drivers. This highlights the risks facing young drivers and what parents can do to reduce them. It also provides guidance to parents on creating a Vehicle Access Agreement which allows parents and newly qualified drivers to clearly set out conditions in the first 12-months for borrowing the family car, or for the newly qualified drivers driving their own cars. A template is provided which parents can download.


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