Stop dangerous driving around learner drivers

One in ten learner drivers gives up learning following abuse on the roads. Here’s what’s happening, and what we're is doing to stop it.


Chloe Profile Picture

By Chloe Martell

Updated on Dec 9th, 2020

Up and down the country, learner drivers are having to deal with road rage aimed at them when they’re on the roads. Whether it’s in driving lessons or private practice, as soon as those L-plates hit the car, many fully qualified road users take this as a sign to hurl abuse at the learners. From tailgating to dangerously overtaking, we recently conducted a survey of 610 Driving Instructors*, to see how bad the issue really is.

Abuse learners are experiencing

  • 77% of UK driving instructors have said they regularly experience abuse and intimidation from other road users when teaching students
  • 31% experience it on a daily basis!
  • 91% of learners have been subjected to overtaking
  • 90% witness tailgating
  • Two thirds (66%) of learners have been subject to abusive hand gestures
  • Half (49%) have experienced verbal abuse on the roads

These shocking and worrying statistics are leading to learner drivers to lose their confidence and make mistakes out on the road, which can lead to potentially fatal consequences.

How’s it affecting learners

Driving Instructors have reported that:

  • 85% of learners who are trying to deal with this abuse become more nervous and start making more mistakes.
  • Almost a quarter (22%) of UK learners have cried as a result
  • A third have had to pull over to compose themselves
  • 8% have become too scared to carry on learning to drive entirely.
  • 1.5% have been involved in an accident as a result

It’s easy to forget that at one point, everyone was a learner driver. No one jumps behind the wheel and is instantly Lewis Hamilton, so why are drivers not giving learners the time and space they need to become confident drivers to pass their test? Here at Marmalade, we want to encourage learner drivers to become confident and skilled behind the wheel, so we’re taking a stance against this abuse that you all too often face.

Is it because of how they drive?

Some of you may be thinking that learner drivers are treated this way because of their driving ability. We can all get a little frustrated from time to time – so perhaps that’s where the abuse is coming from? Wrong. Almost all of the driving instructors we surveyed (93%) claimed they were treated differently when they had L-Plates on the car, despite them being fully qualified drivers, and there being no change in their driving ability to when they drive without an L-Plate, where they don’t get abused.

It seems that drivers are seeing L-Plates, assuming the person behind the wheel is incapable of driving and reacting in dangerous ways around them – which needs to stop! Learner drivers need more time, space and patience from other road users when they’re learning. They’re more likely to make mistakes, but we need to give them the opportunity to learn from these, not add additional pressures. We’ve all in the situation when you stall one too many times at a junction – it’s all a part of learning! We need to give them time and let them try again, not hurl abuse their way.

So what are we going to do about it?

We want there to be consequences for this kind of behaviour, so we’ve launched a petition to call on the government to impose penalties on road users who act dangerously towards learners. If you would like to sign this petition, you can do so here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/276599 

We also want to make a lot of noise around this topic – sharing stories and experiences from learner drivers who have dealt with this kind of road rage will help to shed more light on the issue. If you have a story to tell, please contact [email protected] to let us know.

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Chloe Profile Picture

By Chloe Martell

As a new driver, I'm so eager to share my driving journey with you all - from when I was a learner, going through my test and all the aspects of my driving life now, including my love of cars!


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