Post-licence driver training and education
RACQ has long held the view that carefully designed training courses, one-on-one driver assessments and group workshops can help drivers identify their strengths and weaknesses are beneficial to drivers and can improve their driving behaviour, road rule knowledge and overall safety on the road.
Whether the driver has recently obtained their provisional license or is an experienced older driver, properly designed training courses that take into account the individual’s skill, experience and needs may deliver superior safety outcomes for the driver and other road users.
To deliver these improved safety outcomes, RACQ considers training courses need to balance road safety education with practical training activities to ensure the individual utilises their driving skills and knowledge in a safe and responsible manner.
RACQ recommends that post-licence driver training should emphasise the cognitive aspects of the driving task, i.e., the need for driver awareness and concentration, hazard perception, risk assessment, alertness, and appropriate behaviour.
Safety components in driver training
Research reinforces the importance of safety educational components in driver training.
A recent report entitled The efficacy of advanced driver training: A targeted literature review, published by Curtin – Monash Accident Research Centre (C-MARC) and sponsored by The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia Inc. found that:
“Based on existing evidence, it is concluded that several forms of advanced driver training are beneficial in terms of skill development […] The current trend seems to be towards interventions that make drivers more cautious, without necessarily improving their skill base. There is a bias against training that includes any form of vehicle handling, however this bias is both illogical and unwarranted. Training in vehicle handling does not promote unsafe driving; car control training can increase situation awareness while driving and it is associated with more cautious driving behaviour in police officers. However, vehicle handling should be taught with other skills, particularly hazard perception and risk awareness, to ensure that drivers understand that good driving involves more than skilful control of the vehicle” (Beanland et al. 2011, p23).
With increasing emphasis placed on WH&S, driver training offers significant safety benefits for those who use a vehicle for work purposes.
Queensland Transport (now the Department of Transport and Main Roads) advised in 2008 that almost one quarter of all work-related fatalities occur on roads and that in Australia road crashes are the most common cause of work-related death, injury and absence from work.
Employers have an obligation to provide a safe working environment and make efforts to minimise risk to health and safety for employees (Australian Transport Council 2008, p45). With an increasing trend towards making the car a de facto office, known as ‘mobile working’ (Townsend and Avenoso 2008, p34), employers and fleet managers would also benefit from their employees undergoing further driver education and/or training.
This is an area with promising potential to instigate change and create a safe driving culture, as employers generally have a high level of control over staff who drive for work (Business Motoring 2003). The adoption of policies for safe driving practices provides the means by which employers and fleet operators can incorporate further training for their employees where required.
Employers are in a position to promote higher standards than are required by road traffic law (Australian Transport Council 2008, p45). Training offered by employers could therefore recognise driving as an important workplace skill and raise the level of safe driving (Townsend and Avenoso 2008, p34).
Education courses in the form of driver improvement or rehabilitation programs may also be of use as an alternative penalty for recidivist offenders, provided that such courses can be shown to reduce crash involvement and traffic violations for those who attend.
It is important that drivers refresh their road rules knowledge on a regular basis. Resources include the Queensland Government’s handbook: Your Keys to Driving in Queensland