Evaluation of 16-years age limit for driver training: first report

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Nils Petter Gregersen

VTI has performed an evaluation of lowering the age limit for practising to 16 years. The evaluation includes several substudies such as analysing how the new system is used and what effects it has on attitudes, driving behaviour and accident involvement. The change was introduced in September 1993 and up to now the effects during the first year after licensing have been analysed.

The main idea behind the lowered age limit was to enable the learner drivers to practice more and thus to increase their experience behind the wheel before they are left alone as drivers. The expectation was that this increased experience would also lead to a reduction in accident involvement.

The results show that approximately 45􂀔50% of the population in this age group have received a learner permit at an age younger than 171/2 years which was the limit in the old system. To some extent the group which makes use of the lowered age limit is special. The results show that 5-10% are from a better social background.

The learner drivers who start earlier increase their hours of practising by 2.5 to 3 times to 118 hours. This is to be compared with an average of47 hours in the old system and 41 among those in the new system who are not making use of the lowered age limit.

The youngest (16 - 171/2 years) were not involved in more accidents during practising than the older ones (171/2 - 18 years), calculated as accidents per driver or as accidents per hours of practising. Those who start practising earlier have 40% lower accident risk (accidents per kilometre) after licensing compared with the control groups. Part of this difference is due to social differences but a reduction of 35% is evaluated as an effect of the lowered age limit and the increased experience.

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