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Young Driver Focus roundup

FirstCar magazine's Young Driver Focus happened last Wednesday at the Royal Automobile Club on Pall Mall and it was super. Fabulous venue, great speakers and a beautiful day to be in London.

People from local councils, road safety charities, driver behaviour psychologists, researchers, emergency services and little old ingenie were all in attendance, chatting and nodding all day long.

Road safety celebs including transport minister Andrew Jones rubbed shoulders with Savina and Hannah from our Driver Behaviour Unit. They managed to restrain themselves from asking for autographs though. Just.

There was so much great stuff presented all day that I just had to do a roundup of the best things I learned.

ingenie's Hannah uses VR

ingenie DBU-er Hannah tries virtual reality for the first time

  1. The government is trialling a new driving test

  2. Stunning news! I was NOT expecting to hear that at all. The current trial will bear results in early 2017, which is actually really soon and pretty impressive.

    Investment in young drivers

    Andrew Jones told us that a third of drivers report feeling unprepared for driving alone after passing, so something clearly needs to be done to combat that. £2 million is being invested in a behavioural, educational and technological review of young driver road safety, with Shaun Helman of the Transport Research Laboratory leading the investigation.

    More realistic training and testing

    Motorway driving is being considered for learner drivers, and for the driving test. Hazard perception also needs to move on, and could soon include poor weather and the more dangerous situations that improved digital capabilities allow drivers to experience virtually.

    "Technology is great and is going to fundamentally change road safety. It's part of the answer. It's part of the future."

    Andrew Jones
    Road safety minister

    Quality learning

    How to choose a driving instructor will also be a big focus, and that's something we'll be supporting ourselves with a new campaign we're launching very soon.


    Driving test wait times are being addressed

    It's been a major bugbear for us: learners have been waiting up to 3 months for a driving test for the last year or so.

    Andrew Jones confirmed that the DVSA is recruiting more examiners and opening up more driving test slots. 143 new examiners are now in the system, with around the same number in training. The DVSA expects wait times to be "radically reduced" by December this year.

  4. Listening to music can make a worse driver - but also better

  5. Professor Warren Brodsky gave a talk about listening to music in the car, which he says is "part of the driving experience."

    98% of us listen to music in the car. According to the prof, "Men like to listen to chick songs in the car because no one can see them," which, from the embarrassed chuckling, held true for the audience.

    Volume isn't the issue

    Apparently, the distraction of fiddling with the radio is not the major concern; it's the dancing, singing and air guitar. Loudness also isn't the problem - it's tempo. As tempo increases, incidents of speeding, lane wobbling and going through red lights increase.

    Music hampers motor control and takes up cognitive resources - we're using valuable parts of our brain on the wrong thing while trying to also pilot a vehicle.

    I was dismayed to learn that male heavy metal fans have the highest rate of drunk driving, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. Guys - do me a favour? Stop giving metal heads a bad name, OK?

    Driving music picked by science

    Professor Brodsky played us the 'perfect' driving music; music that's been scientifically composed to have the right pitch and tempo to positively impact driving.

    Man, it was so rubbish. Remember the music from The SIMS? It was that. Apparently young drivers HATE it - but it still makes them drive better!

    Science for the win.

Our Young Driver Focus sponsor stand

Wow, people sure like ice scrapers. We had our brand new fancy banners up, our Young Driver Report laid out and ice scrapers going free to the rabid crowd.

I was asked to perch on the table and pose for photographs, which was weird, and the 3 of us girls talked to lots of people very interested in how ingenie does things.

ingenie stand at Young Driver Focus

Richard King: dispelling the myths

We did something a bit different this year:
a Q&A with Nick Rawlings of Road Safety GB.

ingenie CEO Richard King was bombarded with questions from "Is telematics insurance just for rich people?" (LOL, no) to "Do you think telematics insurance should be made mandatory?" (hell no).

Nick ran out of time all too soon and then it was time to break out the tiny sandwiches.

Great day.

Richard King at Young Driver Focus

Richard King in Q&A with Nick Rawlings


Captivated? See what happened at Young Driver Focus 2015.

Honor Clement-Hayes

By Honor Clement-Hayes

Honor joined ingenie in 2014 and is in charge of words on the Young Driver's Guide and blog. Her first car is a Peugeot 206 cabriolet, which is a very sensible choice for the British climate. Follow her on .