Arrive Alive:

Driver Experience, Driver Inexperience and Road Safety

Driver Experience, Driver Inexperience and Road Safety

How important is experience behind the wheel for safe driving? In 2016 more than 500,000 people became newly licenced drivers in SA.

In South Africa, we should not only focus on inexperienced drivers as being “Young” drivers, as our political past and inequalities meant that many older people only recently became vehicle owners and licenced drivers.

It is generally accepted that time spent behind the wheel is a very important determinant of crash risk.

To consider the impact driver inexperience might have on road safety we decided to analyse some research, crash report and insights from driver instructors.

Driver Experience, Driver Inexperience and Road Safety


  • During their first six months of solo driving, newly licenced drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than are more experienced drivers (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2004).
  • Even after more than six months licenced to drive alone, teens are two to three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than are the most experienced drivers.
  • A University of Adelaide study has found that young drivers are twice as likely to have an accident during their first few months of driving on a provisional licence than if they had more than a year of driving experience.
  • Craig Kloeden from the University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) says the high crash rates show that many newly licenced young drivers are still too inexperienced to handle a vehicle safely.
  • “The study indicates that it is many hundreds of hours before young drivers become competent in a vehicle.”

Why does Driver Inexperience present an Increased Risk?

Inexperienced drivers tend to underestimate hazardous situations and tend to disobey many of the Rules of the Roads!

Young Drivers and Lawless and Dangerous Driving Behaviour:

The young inexperienced drivers are more inclined than older drivers to

  • Speed and not adjust speed to road and traffic conditions.
  • Run red lights.
  • Make illegal turns.
  • Be an intoxicated driver or drive after using alcohol or drugs. Drunk driving reduces coordination, slows down reactions, and impairs the judgement of speed, distance and risk.
  • Drive distracted and use mobile phones and other modern technological gadgets.
  • Fail to wear a seatbelt.
  • Cut in and out of traffic.
  • Fail to keep adequate following distances.
  • Try to impress passengers.
  • Perform dangerous manoeuvres.
  • Drive much more at night.