Irresponsible drivers are putting learner drivers, driving instructors and the public at risk by driving dangerously and abusing drivers with L-plates. We recently conducted survey of 1,293 learner drivers, newly qualified drivers and parents (Oct 2021), as well as 407 driving instructors (Apr 2022). The results were shocking – 81% of learners have experienced intimidation and abuse by other road users – which has led to 72% making more mistakes and even led to 8% of learners giving up driving altogether. What’s more, 99% of instructors experience this daily!
See for yourself just what learner driver and instructors have to put up with on a daily basis! And don’t forget to sign our petition to stop dangerous driving around L-plates!
What's happening out on the roads?
These drivers have clearly forgotten they were learners once! We’ve had so much feedback from learners and driving instructors on their experiences – here’s just a few examples of what learners and instructor have to deal with daily!
Shouted at by a car full of men - Esme
I’ve had numerous experiences of abuse whilst out learning to drive, which really knocked my confidence and left me feeling quite threatened and scared.
The most damaging experience was when I was pulling onto the dual carriageway for the first time. A car full of men came up close behind me before pulling up next to me, shouting abuse and throwing things out of the window. The experience was so overwhelming and I felt so threatened at that moment that it stopped me from driving for 6 months.
A bump in the rear from a tailgater - Kimberly
Once, during one of my lessons with my driving instructor, I was heading toward my exit on a busy town roundabout, which then proceeded to be blocked up by a slow traffic jam. Instinctively, I braked in order to stop and join the trailing line of cars, however, the driver behind me seemed to interpret this as a stuck-behind-a-slow-learner situation and drove straight into the back of the car! My extremely irritated instructor attempted unsuccessfully to wave the offender into a nearby car park, yet the driver simply hurried off. After a quick breather in the ASDA car park, my instructor reassured me that the entire shenanigan was caught on camera so that if there was any damage, the offending driver could easily be found.
When I was a learner driver, I had so many drivers who saw me as a target - tailgating, dangerous overtaking, pulling out of junctions and suddenly changing lanes. It made me more anxious than I already was.
"Braked tested” by an erratic driver - Kira
When I was a learner on my third or fourth lesson, I was in a 60mph section of a road doing just above 50. I was still pretty nervous, but not going ‘slow’ by any means. I could see someone in my rear-view mirror approaching me really quickly (way quicker than 60mph!). The driver then shot out to the side and overtook me. I thought it was just a reckless driver in a rush, but they then decided as they were in front of me to slam their brakes on, causing me to nearly hit the back of them! They then sped up again and drove away. I was so confused, and a bit angry! My driving instructor told me to pull over and then explained that they were ‘brake testing’ me. It was a really scary situation and made me worry for a long time after, even when I made it up to the speed limit.
Honked at on a roundabout - Kate
When I was a learner driver, I was heading towards the big roundabout in my local town centre for the first time in a lesson. I was feeling quite confident until a fire engine was approaching from behind. Of course, I panicked – it was my first time on this roundabout! Unfortunately, an already stressful situation was made even worse by someone behind me, who started beeping his horn and shouting furiously for me to move into the oncoming traffic! It was horrible and had a huge impact on my confidence.
Verbal abuse soon before a driving test – Linda (Driving Instructor)
A recent example of intimidation is when I'd asked a pupil to stop on the left in a safe place. Another motorist took exception to this, pulled alongside and shouted through his window that my pupil was a f****** idiot for stopping there. He then stopped in front of us, so we had to consider going around him, but he pulled away laughing and waving. My pupil went into a meltdown, she couldn't believe that anyone could be so nasty to her.
Following the incident and with her test a couple of days later she felt she no longer wanted to drive and taking the test would be pointless. On the way to her test she needed lots of reassurance and with her agreement I mentioned to her examiner what had happened in case she became nervous of stopping on her test. Thankfully she went on to pass despite the ordeal.
Verbal abuse for just practising parking – Richard (Driving Instructor)
I've experienced road rage aimed at students, general abuse, threats of violence and racist slurs. I've even had a guy shout at my pregnant student because we were parallel parking next to his car. He set his alarm off using his key fob and when that didn't discourage us, he came out to the car and shouted at us. We calmly ignored him and drove off and he got in the car and followed us for 15 minutes and I had to phone the police.
Abused for doing the speed limit – Samme (Driving Instructor)
I've had so much abuse. In one lesson I had someone tailgating, snaking and flashing lights to get past. We were in a 40-limit doing 40. We pulled over and they pulled over, revving the engine, so we set off again and they followed doing the same. I had to pull into a police station car park to get away from them. Many times, people blow their horn when a learner stalls or sits very close behind and worries the learner.
Abuse causes some learners to quit – Andy (Driving Instructor)
I lost 2 learner drivers over 12 months. 1 was the result of a van tailgating badly, then dangerously overtook, slammed on the brakes and started to hurl abuse in another language. She just said "no more. Take me home".