In recent years, the Netherlands has introduced 2toDrive, the points driving license and the hazard recognition component to reduce accident risk among young people. But other countries are also taking measures to keep young drivers safe on the road. For example, also a form of assisted driving. Or a “stepped driver’s license. SWOV provides a description of this in its spring issue.
Under the current Dutch version, young people can get their driver’s license from the age of 17, after which they can only drive under the supervision of an experienced driver until the age of 18. According to SWOV, data from 2006 show that the percentage of novice drivers using that option varies widely, from 1% in Spain to around 90% in Sweden.
In the Netherlands, young people seem enthusiastic: four months after the introduction of 2toDrive, nearly 10,000 had registered for the theory exam and 1,000 practical exams had been taken.
“But ultimately, of course, what matters is the extent to which young people use the opportunity to gain supervised experience. After all, that is expected to be the effective component,” SWOV writes. The evaluation of 2toDrive being conducted by SWOV will therefore certainly include this element.
Especially in North America and Australia, assisted driving is often the first of three phases of a so-called stepped driver’s license. The graduated driver’s license is based on the principle “if you can do more, you can do more. The first phase, accompanied driving, often has explicit conditions attached to it, such as about the actions the student must perform and the number of miles to be covered.
Driving ban at night
After the guided-driving phase, a graduated driver’s license involves an intermediate phase in which the student is allowed to drive independently, but only in relatively safe conditions. Almost always at this stage there is a zero alcohol limit; often there is also a ban on driving at night and driving with peers as passengers.
In the United States, this phase lasts six months to a year; in Australia, sometimes three years. After the intermediate stage comes the third stage, the beginner’s license. As in the Netherlands, stricter rules apply to the beginner’s license, such as alcohol consumption or a (weighted) points system.
In particular, it is the intermediate phase, in which some conditions particularly dangerous to young people are excluded, that is expected to contribute to additional safety gains. At the same time, these are the measures that face social and political resistance.
“Hazard recognition as part of the driving test, like assisted driving, is an issue close to SWOV’s heart,” the researchers write. “Hazard recognition, or rather hazard anticipation, is an essential skill within the driving task, but is still poorly developed in novice drivers.”
“Fortunately, research has shown that hazard anticipation is a skill that can be taught well and by relatively simple means. A short training session in a simple driving simulator already appears to help,” SWOV writes. All the aforementioned changes in driver training should lead to a significant reduction in the accident risk among young drivers.