Driving on a Provisional Licence from Age 17 - Practical Feasibility of a New Scheme for Learner Drivers
Dr. Walter Funk
Driving on a Provisional Licence from Age 17 – Practical Feasibility of a New Scheme for
Dr. Funk will present the process evaluation results of a pilot scheme conducted through-
out Germany on behalf of the Federal Highway Research Institute and entitled “Driving on
a Provisional Licence, from Age 17”.
The purpose of this evaluation was to determine how teenage novice drivers and the per-
sons accompanying them handle accompanied driving in their daily lives. 6,211 teenagers
who had obtained a provisional driver’s licence under the pilot scheme between 15 Au-
gust and 14 September 2007 were randomly selected from the Central Register of Driving
Licences, identified by the driving licence numbers obtained from the licensing authorities,
and contacted by the German Federal Motor Transport Authority. 3,780 of these teenag-
ers completed either the online version or the hard copy of the first questionnaire, which
corresponds to a response rate of 60.9 %. These novice drivers were interviewed as
many as four times throughout the pilot scheme, i.e. from starting accompanied driving to
issuance of a regular driving licence at the age of 18.
In the second survey phase, 1,735 persons accompanying the interviewed novice drivers were
also questioned. The participants obtained their driving licence five months after their 17th birthday
on average. While some teenagers chose to participate in the BF17 scheme on their own initia-
tive, more than 50 % were enrolled by their parents. The teenagers’ key motivation was their wish
to be able to drive a car as early as possible. Safety and practical aspects also played a role.
The main motive of the interviewed parents (most provisional licence holders were ac-
companied by their parents) was to help their children get a start in driving, in addition to
practical aspects and safety considerations. Most teenage drivers were accompanied by
their mothers, aged between 40 and 49 years and living in the same home.
The participants’ average daily mileage was 9.3km (median value; arithmetic mean:
13.2km), including days without accompanied driving. Looking at the mileage covered by
accompanied driving only, the median value is 24.0km per day (arithmetic mean:
32.4km). On average, all BF17 participants drove 65.0km per week (median value; arith-
metic mean: 92.2km), covering a projected monthly mileage of 318.5km (median value:
260.4km). For novice drivers participating in the study over the entire maximum accom-
panied-driving phase, the projected 12-month mileage was approximately 3,800km in the
Most accompanied trips took no more than a quarter of an hour on weekdays, while
longer trips were undertaken especially on Saturdays and Sundays. The average daily
duration of accompanied trips was approximately 22.5 minutes from Monday through Fri-
day, and 26.3 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays (median values; arithmetic mean: 27.8
minutes per day from Monday through Friday, and 37.5 minutes per day on weekends).
The four main reasons for driving trips, i.e. “private purposes”, household errands, leisure
trips, and driving to school or to work, illustrate how participation in the pilot was embed-
ded in the daily lives of novice drivers and their families.
Over the timescale, the increase in driving experience was reflected in the decreasing
share of insecure drivers. As early as the second phase of the study, participants clearly
perceived their increased driving experience by a number of indicators. “Frequent drivers“
were found by their accompanying persons to have significantly improved control over
their vehicle and to be much more careful, relaxed or self-assured drivers than “infrequent
Virtually all of the teenage participants would recommend accompanied driving. While the
results of the process evaluation validate the easy accessibility and the practicality of the
BF17 model, police accident statistics confirm the greater safety of accompanied driving.
To optimise the scheme, learner drivers should make better use of the 12-month maxi-
mum period, i.e. drive more often and cover more km.