A new survey by Marmalade Insurance reveals learners are being subjected to so much road rage from other road users that one in ten have quit learning altogether because they are too scared to continue.
According to the survey of over 600 driving instructors, learners are having to put up with abuse from other motorists during driving lessons. From tailgating and dangerous overtaking to verbal abuse including being screamed at, learners are realising that once those L-plates are on, they become fair game for other drivers’ road rage outbursts.
The research reveals:
• 77% of UK driving instructors regularly experience abuse and intimidation from other road users when teaching students with 31% experiencing it on a daily basis
• 91% of learners have been subjected to overtaking and 90% witness tailgating
• Two-thirds of learners have been subject to abusive hand gestures
• Half have experienced verbal abuse when out on the road.
Impact of road rage on learner drivers
Being on the receiving end of such abuse is causing serious issues for many learners. For instance, 85% of students become more nervous and make more mistakes with 22% bursting into tears and over 30% having to pull over to compose themselves.
Shockingly, nearly 10% of learners have actually quit learning to drive because they become too intimidated. Most worryingly of all, it is estimated that road rage abuse has directly led to 1.5% of learners being involved in an accident.
L-plates – red rag to a bull
While you might believe the issues is being caused by drivers becoming frustrated with learners making, say, slow progress or stalling at a junction, the research reveals such abusive behaviour actually has nothing to do with the learner’s skill levels.
Instead, 98% of driving instructors say it’s down to L-plates themselves. Instructors state that when they are personally driving without L-plates on their car, they don’t have any problems – but when they put L-plates on and get back behind the wheel, they are treated differently by other road users – even though instructors are among the best drivers in the UK. In other words, as soon as drivers see those L-plates, they start seeing red.
While instructors may sadly be used to such abusive behaviour, the impact on learners can be profound:
What I would say to the people that are causing these issues is to PLEASE be patient. We all must start out somewhere and one comment you make that you will forget will stick with learner drivers for a long time. We are just trying to make the most of our driving experiences and wish people would just be more kind!”
– Anonymous learner driver in her blog, which can be viewed here.
Take action against abuse
To combat this growing problem, Marmalade wants to see tougher action taken against drivers who are abusive towards learners and have set up a petition here. Add your voice to the call for parliament to introduce a law that penalises learner abuse. It could help you and future learners be treated with the respect and patience you deserve when out on the road, learning to be better, safer drivers.