DRIVING LICENCE OR NOT WHAT PREDICTS THE ANSWER? AN INTERVIEW- AND QUESTIONNAIRE-BASED STUDY AMONG YOUNG SWEDISH PEOPLE
Berg, H.Y., Swedish National Road Administration, Sweden
The proportion of 18-year-olds in Sweden who have a Category B driving licence has, after falling steeply during 1990 fall to ca 25% at the end of the 1990s. There are also indications that the numbers of driving licenses have fallen in Denmark and Austria which indicates a similar and a possible forthcoming trend in Europe. The result shows that the underlying reasons for the decision by young people whether or not to take their driving test are very complex and many different factors influence young people in their decision. Perceived financial situation, amount of time left over from school or leisure activities and the percieved norm for a drivers license are the dominant factors. In view of the significance attributed to a driving licence and a car until the 1990s in Sweden, it can be assumed from the results of this study that there has been a change in values. The status of the driving licence among young people appears to have declined, and it is also no longer regarded as the major entrance ticket to the adult world. One argument which should also be advanced in conjunction with the result of the study is the nature of the distribution between mobility and safety. We are already aware that the younger the group of newly qualified drivers the greater the risk of accident for the group. In order to get an idea of the relationship between drivers involved in road traffic accidents entailing injury which were reported to the Swedish police in the 18-24 year old category, 3652 of 462 638 drivers, or about 0.8% were involved in an accident in 1997. This means that 99 of 100 young drivers do not figure in the official accident statistics. If it is wished to reduce the number of accidents among the youngest drivers in a simple way, any measures that are adopted should not make it easier for them to obtain a driving licence. If, on the other hand, it is wished to increase the mobility of young people and, in so doing, to ensure the benefit that they can derive from a driving licence, the opposite approach should be taken, i.e. adopt measures which make it easier for them to obtain a driving licence. The result of this study does not produce answer to indicate which of these approaches is correct but the results gives indication on which measures to focus on if making it easier och more difficult to obtain a drivers license for a group of young people. Knowing what use will be made of the driver education system makes it possible to have a sufficient number of teachers and driving schools that can help young people acquire a good education. Knowing the factors that influence whether young people obtain a driving licence or not also makes it also possible to predict different groups of young adults who will make use of the Swedish driver education programme. Such knowledge can be used to adapt parts of the syllabus to suit different groups and thereby have a greater impact on accidents in the youngest age group.