Advanced driver training will not lower the road toll

Science shows that advanced driver training will not lower the road toll, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“Despite what you may have heard, advanced driver training has been shown to be ineffective at reducing accidents. In fact, multiple studies have shown that advanced driver training may actually lead to an increase in the number of accidents, because it makes drivers overconfident.[1]

Matthew-Wilson also cautioned about taking advice from racing drivers.

“A 1970s study of racing drivers found that they had a higher rate of accidents than average when driving on ordinary roads.  The race car drivers’ knowledge and skills were obviously better than average, but this didn’t mean they were safer; racing drivers simply used their advanced skills to take more risks.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“Impassioned requests for people to drive safely have also been shown to be a waste of time. The highest risk groups are immune to road safety messages.”

Matthew-Wilson says the one form of training that really makes a difference is ordinary, school-based education.

“Multiple studies globally have shown that people with poor high school outcomes are far more likely to die in crashes.  A 2015 American study showed that, in 1995, the death rate of the least educated was 2.4 times that of the most educated. By 2010, this death rate was 4.3 times.”

Matthew-Wilson says that, in the longer term, safer roads and safer cars are the keys to lowering the road toll, but there are some very quick and easy ways of reducing crashes.

“The government has known for twenty years that daytime running lights can reduce daytime accidents by 25%. So why aren’t these lights fitted to every vehicle?

 Daytime running lights are compulsory in the European Union and are now fitted to many new cars in this country, but can be easily retrofitted to older vehicles.

According to multiple studies on the effectiveness of daytime running lights in improving road safety, the potential savings are:

• 25% of daytime multi-vehicle fatal accidents (11% of all non-pedestrian fatal accidents)

• 28% of daytime fatal pedestrian accidents (12% of all fatal pedestrian accidents)

• 20% of daytime multi-vehicle injury accidents

• 12% of daytime multi-vehicle property accidents


[1] [1] In 1997, the internationally respected American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published a worldwide review of the effectiveness of driver training. The conclusion: “driver education and training don’t lead to lower crash involvement”.

In fact, the opposite has often been observed. For example, when young men attended courses that taught skid control, offroad recovery, and other emergency manoeuvres, the outcome was adverse.

The same applies to both bicycles and motorbikes: after reviewing motorcycle rider education and training programmes in three countries, Dan Mayhew of Canada’s Traffic Injury Research Foundation concluded that there’s “no compelling evidence that rider training is associated with reductions in collisions.”

“Males who received training had higher crash rates than those who did not take the training. Authors of the relevant studies have suggested that males trained in these skills become overconfident in their ability and now take unnecessary risks.”

The 1997 IIHS conclusion was reinforced by a 2015 study of a special training course for young drivers, which included skid avoidance and vehicle control training.

The conclusion: “there is no evidence the extra training makes them safer drivers.”