Young drivers at work face, and create, a higher risk than other drivers because they are inexperienced and because driving for work is higher risk than driving for personal reasons. Both young drivers and at-work drivers were identified as priority groups in the second three-year review of the road safety strategy.

With funding from the DfT’s road safety partnership grant, and with the help of a working group including the DfT, DSA, Buckinghamshire and Lancashire County Councils, Birmingham City Council and Roadsafe, RoSPA conducted a ‘Young Drivers at Work Study’ among employers who have young staff (17-24 years) who drive as part of their work and young at-work drivers themselves.

The ‘Young Drivers at Work Study’ was phase I of a two-part project.

The study comprised individual interviews with employers and managers of young at-work drivers, a questionnaire survey of a wide range of employers, and a number of focus groups with young drivers who drove as part of their job. Chapter two outlines the methodology of the report.

The study explored whether employers, and young drivers, thought that learner driver training, and the driving test, provides young drivers with the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need when driving for work (as opposed to driving for their own private purposes). It also sought to assess whether employers, and young at-work drivers, would value and use additional ‘driving for work’ qualifications, and if so, what should be included in such a qualification and the most suitable format(s) and method(s) of delivery.

A further aim was to match the findings from the research onto the DSA Competency Framework for Car and Light Van Drivers™ (hereafter referred to as the Competency Framework). Although most employers are not yet aware of the Competency

Framework, their responses could be matched to elements in the framework.

Main findings

  • 60%of employers surveyed felt that the current system of driver training and testing was ‘not at all’ or ‘not very’ adequate for preparing young drivers to drive for work. 87%of employers who took part in more detailed telephone interviews replied the same
  • Employers are not relying on the driving licence as evidence of competence in driving for work. Many conduct their own assessments before allowing their employees to drive for work purposes
  • Three-quarters of employers surveyed reported that their young employees were driving in situations that were not covered by the current learner test, for example driving at night or in icy conditions
  • More than two-thirds of young employees are driving vehicles for work which are larger than a car, and in which they were not trained or tested when learning to drive
  • More than half of employers surveyed would like to see a post-test driving qualification introduced
  • Accident reduction and compliance with health and safety legislation were the two main reasons why employers would find post-test training useful
  • Developing safer driver attitudes, driving in different conditions, enhanced hazard perception, and motorway driving were the top issues employers would like a post-test qualification to include. These were also stated as inadequacies of the current test
  • Employers preferred training for a post-test driving for work qualification to take place during work time. They wanted the qualification to be accredited to a national standard
  • External training needs to be flexible and adaptable to the individual needs of organisations
  • Large-sized companies and non-commercial organisations would have the capacity to provide accredited driving training in-house. They could also provide facilities for others if established as national assessment centres
  • Personal and interactive training that young drivers can relate to was considered the most effectivemode of delivery
  • Young drivers felt that passing the driving test was the end of learning how to drive and that there is a limit to what can be taught. Young drivers believe that when they are driving in the ‘real world’ they learn by making mistakes
  • Employers are using probation periods and restrictions on what young drivers can initially do, in order to structure their driving for work experience