May 2008

Young driver, learner and pre-driver perspectives on driving and learning to drive


These two reports – The Good, the Bad and the Talented and Feeling Safe, Itching to Drive (download lnks at bottom of page) – are from the very first road safety projects I worked on. I didn’t set out to do a lot of work in road safety, but I’m so grateful to have had that opportunity.

In part, that’s because it is good to work towards goals which are so unquestionably worthwhile. Anything that reduces the numbers of people killed or injured on the road is a good thing.

But alongside that there are more selfish, more geeky reasons why I enjoy working in road safety. As an applied domain of the human sciences, I think it is perhaps unique in that:

  • It is relevant to everyone. Public roads are one of the few remaining arenas where everyone, from every part of our society, is present. Sadly, accident and emergency departments are another.
  • Every strand of human behaviour is implicated – and people know this. In the Young Driver report, for example, we explain how the young drivers we spoke to see driving as a task with physical, social and emotional dimensions.
  • Things really get done. Not enough, perhaps, and not always in the right way. But road safety is a domain in which a researcher can experience that most thrilling of feelings: actually making a diference to something.