Experiences of Teen Drivers and Their Advice for the Learner License Phase
Objective: Teen drivers remain at considerable risk of injury and fatality during the earliest years of independent driving. Multistage licensing programs, such as graduated driver licensing (GDL), have been implemented in numerous jurisdictions as a form of exposure control, mandating minimum practice periods and driving restrictions such as night driving and passenger limits. However, the teen driver's experiences of GDL during the learner phase, and the driving and other advice they recommend be shared with all learners, remains unknown at this time.
Methods: Thirty-seven learner drivers (aged 16–18 years, mean = 16.7, mode = 16; 9 males) from 2 high schools (one private, 3 males; one public) participated in one of 2 (group 1: private school, n = 17) 45-min group discussions.
Results: Two themes emerged: (1) learning to drive and (2) supervision of the learner driver. A wealth of experiences and advice pertaining to the subthemes of supervisor behavior, GDL, road environment, vehicle logistics, and interacting with other road users were shared by learners. Numerous recommendations are made pertaining to each subtheme, such as clear instruction and feedback, tips for negotiating complex infrastructure, and normalizing of outcomes like stalled vehicles when first learning to drive. Furthermore, it appears that current approaches of issuing supporting literature at the commencement of the learner phase are insufficient.
Conclusions: The wealth of experiences and advice shared by the learner drivers should be considered in refining the content and process of the learner license phase. Moreover, the nonuse of learner resources suggests that alternative mechanisms of engagement and information dissemination need to be explored.