Consultation on Drivers' Training & Traffic Safety Education
Publication date: 24 August 2009
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile brings together European Touring and Automobile Clubs, which have a combined membership of more than 34 million motorists in the EU. We represent these motorists’ at European level.
Road safety is a priority of the first order for all FIA members. For a number of years now our ‘vision zero’ strategy has been a key driver in our battle for safer roads. This vision postulates that all of our efforts should be based on the belief that any road death is one death too many and we should strive to reduce risk of death on the road to zero. Our motto to achieve this ambitious goal is “five star drivers in five star cars on five star roads”.
For FIA Eurocouncil, efficient training of drivers is one of the three key elements to improve road safety, besides the vehicle and the infrastructure. As novice drivers are more at risk of causing or dying from a car accident as the other drivers, special attention should be paid to their learning process. One of the keys to producing better and safer drivers is training and education, both areas where our Member Clubs lead
The training of drivers, from early on and throughout their life is one the most important and most efficient way to improve drivers’ skills and reduce road fatalities. In this context, FIA supports addressing drivers’ self and perception of his/ her environment at an early learning stage and throughout the drivers’ education, since safe driving not only requires in depth knowledge of the car and traffic rules but also involves personal values. A significant number of FIA signatories of the European Road Safety Charter target training and education of young audiences in their commitments: In our view, education of young people and drivers is a key to improving road safety. Best practices examples in training matters are attached in annex 1.
1. Do you think that driver training systems should be harmonized in the EU? If so, what advantages would it have for traffic safety, and what problems do you expect?
FIA member clubs support the setting of EU minimum standards of the training systems, based on the highest existing standards possible. By the establishment of such rules, we need to bear in mind that good quality training is highly culture sensitive. The directive 91/439/EEC established the mandatory principle of mutual recognition of drivers’ license in 19911. A harmonization of training systems would facilitate the free movement of European drivers, who would learn the same driving principles according to uniform minimum standards.
Advantages for road safety:
a. One set of rules for one common space, from training to enforcement: European drivers will learn the skills and rules they need to travel within the European area at the same time. This will avoid increased confusion while travelling in foreign countries and help reduce the number of fatalities in Europe.
b. The development of a holistic approach of the drivers, taking novice drivers’ training beyond the traditional focus on mastering traffic situation and skills for vehicles maneuvering will also contribute to improve road safety. 56 % of FIA Eurocouncil clubs provide initial driver’s training, covering the whole range of driving licenses2.
Potential problems/ challenges:
a. The approach to road safety issues is linked to cultural factors and it is a challenge to define one set of requirements that suits all member States: As pointed out by the Social Attitudes to Road Traffic Risk in Europe (SARTRE) report, EU countries perception of safety differ and has a direct impact on fatalities3. It also points out that replication of best practices’ examples can lead to very different results in other EU Member States. Therefore, the definition of standards for drivers’ initial training will have to be carefully weighted and assessed by all Member States. It will be a long and difficult process. Member States should be given the possibility to legislate further, in order to fully
address additional road safety challenges linked to their specific national context.
b. Harmonization of novice training goes hand in hand with a necessary road signs harmonization, so that road users are in no doubt of what is required of them when travelling through the EU. A previous EuroTest survey revealed that 91% of European motorists want greater harmonization of road signs across Europe4. We argue that mutual recognition of driver license and European training requirements would not be very effective without the harmonization of the context in which motorists will evolve.
c. It might prove extremely difficult to monitor the effects of the harmonization since drivers’ behavior is hardly measurable. Its success should not be solely linked to the potential reduction of road fatalities it should produce.
2. Should traffic education at school be mandatory?
Yes, this approach would be an effective support to the traditional drivers training. Traffic education should be given by road safety professionals. Educating early is fundamental to improve awareness of traffic. Highlighting risk factors such as peer pressure, rural roads, night driving, drink and drugs contributes to longer term reduction of fatalities on the roads.
a. Fatalities would decrease if we give more attention to the social components of driving. FIA clubs believe that driving ability should not be confined to the mere acquisition of technical facts and skills, but encompass a broad understanding of a balanced relationship between the individual and the others. Road education should develop the social skills needed for the establishment of a common safety culture from an early age. School education concerns the whole of the generations, which will need to be aware of the social responsibility linked
b. Children would also benefit from such an education as vulnerable road users in the first phase of their lives. The knowledge acquired early in their lives would be further developed when they learn how to use a moped/ a car.
3. Should driving instructors undergo continuing professional development?
Yes, we believe that the driving instructors should undergo continuing professional development to be kept up to date with the latest training methods. The environment they evolve in is constantly changing and continuous training should take the following aspects into account:
a. Increasingly technical environment and improvement of technologies (concerning cars and roads)
b. Changes in traffic law rules and traffic situations
c. Introduction of new training methods apprehending the social and technical skills of the new drivers
d. Possible progress in environment-friendly drivers’ methods.
The current MERIT standards of 5 training days every five year should be increased. An assessment of the training skills and effective results should be regularly carried out.
4. Should coaching be emphasized more as a teaching method for driving instructors?
Emphasized coaching as a teaching method for driving instructors can prove efficient to improve acquired driving skills. While this system does not seem adequate to for drivers in the first learning phase, it is used by some of our European clubs as a complement to basic driving courses. The first phase of drivers’ training should aim at efficiently transmitting the social and practical skills needed for safe driving. Some coaching elements could be brought in progressively when the drivers’ basic skills are already firmly acquired.
5. Should post-test practical experience models be encouraged?
Yes, we believe that post-test practical experience could help reduce the risks taken by the novice drivers. The acquisition of complementary experience is a key to improving drivers’ (and most particularly novice drivers’) performance on European roads. It is however it is unlikely to succeed if introduced on a voluntary basis. The introduction of a second stage training has been very successful in a number of EU countries. FIA Eurocouncil encourages the Commission to draw on this experience to introduce advanced driver training Europe-wide.
EU incentives toward this direction are welcomed as money is often the reason why the number of training hours is limited. No individual driving test will prepare motorists for the life time of driving challenges that await them on Europe’s ever busier roads. FIA clubs furthermore support the principle of introducing voluntary lifelong learning opportunities for all drivers after the learning phase.
6. Should accompanied driving systems be encouraged? Should they be harmonized at EU level?
In the countries where it was introduced, accompanied driving systems proved efficient in reducing traffic accidents. In this sense, the promotion of the model in other EU Member States could improve the overall level of safety on the road. However, the modalities according to which the system is implemented (i.e. starting age, requirements for the accompanying person) should be further defined by the Member States themselves. FIA would support the introduction of EU non binding recommendations based on good practice examples from different EU member States.
7. Should accompanied driving systems with ‘lay instructors’ be encouraged? Should there be training requirements for lay instructors?
FIA clubs make a clear distinction between the training phase – which needs to be carried out with a professional instructor – and the acquirement of additional practical experience. Accompaniers for post or pre test driving experience should fulfill a certain number of minimum criteria to perform this task (for example: minimum of 10 years experience, no serious offenses committed…).
A minimum level of road safety instruction should be compulsory for lay instructors, in countries where such a system is already in place. Moreover, it would be useful if they could regularly attend refreshment courses to introduce the new traffic situations and/
or pedagogical approaches.
8. Do you agree that the minimum age of solo driving (with a category B license) should be 18?
18 is the minimum age set for driving alone in most of the European countries. The system implemented in Austria and the UK foresees a minimum age for driving alone at 17. As these legislation proved useful to improve road safety, we would support a system encompassing the possibility to lower the minimum age of solo driving under specific circumstances.
9. Should more use be made of computer-based training systems? If so, in which areas?
Computer-based training systems could be used to simulate driving in dangerous situations (glittery roads, ice…). Computer based training should never replace traditional learning methods, which are fundamental to enable drivers to get first hand insights in traffic and danger situations. First-hand experience cannot be fully replaced by simulators, which might cause over confidence in novice drivers – who could then believe that they are fit to master any difficult situation. As an additional training, computer could be useful for young drivers, as they are intensive computer users.
Computer-based training should not draw our attention away from the priority to efficiently train driving instructors. In countries where driving schools evolve in a segmented and highly competitive environment, prices and quality are both driven down (e.g. Italy) and the use of computer-base training would be very difficult to introduce.
10. Should more use be made of e-learning? If so, in which areas?
Yes e-learning could be an additional tool to drivers’ training. However, the social part of the training should never be replaced by e-learning possibilities. The new training methods should focus on situating the new driver in his/her environment. The interactions with the instructor and other learners are a key to this process.
1 Article 1(2) of Directive 91/439/EEC stipulates that all driving licences have to be mutually recognised
within the European Union. Where the holder of a valid driving licence acquires "normal residence" in a
Member State other than that which issued the licence, the host country has to recognise the licence
(Source Europa Website).
2 FIA internal survey carried out in summer 2009 attached in annex 2.
3 Results of the EU Project « DAN = Description and analysis of post licensing measures for novice
drivers », published by Kuratorium für Verkehrssicherheit in 2000, page 222.
As at 31/07/2009
annexe1.pdf (49.3 KB)
annexe2.pdf (30.4 KB)