A Cognitive Approach to the Learner Driver

This article describes research that observes the cognitive behavior of novice drivers (the group most prone to have automobile accidents, despite in-depth driver training), aged between 18 and 20 years old, who attend a driving school in France. The author divides a group of 33 study participants into three categories – those who are "economically active"; those who have a secondary school education; and current students. The research uses qualitative analysis that is based on observation grids and participant statements during investigative interviews. Also considered is how different participants resolve various driving situations in relation to others who have already participated in prior cognitive analysis studies (Hernja, 2005). Results show that anticipating driving risks is difficult for novice drivers to learn. In modeling and linking the anticipation of risks to participant behavior, the author shows that anticipation, when the risk is visible, can be based on low-level mental operations that are described as sensorimotor. It can also be based on high-level mental operations, in cases where hypotheses lead the novice driver to both imagine and react to potential risks. Observed behaviors that support these results show novice drivers who: 1) are incapable of reacting accordingly after observing potential risk factors; 2) need to see potential risk factors in order to anticipate and react accordingly; 3) are able to imagine the risk factors and react accordingly without having actually seen them. The author concludes that driving skill mastery by young drivers is not a certainty at the end of driver training, as the training itself appears to be more than imparting highway rules and know-how. The cognitive, affective, and social heterogeneity of novice drivers in training must also be considered, especially in providing a way to understand the attitudes and behavior of novice drivers.


  • English

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01042749
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Feb 17 2007 11:15PM