Self-Assessed Driving Skills and Risky Driver Behaviour Among Young Drivers: A Cross-Sectional Study

Timo Lajunen, Mark J.M. Sullman, Esma Gaygısız

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first few years of driving is a critical period when driving skills develop and the driving style is established. While the actual driving skills improve during the first few years of driving, a novice driver’s view of himself/herself as a safe and/or skilful driver also develops rapidly. The aim of this study was to investigate self-evaluated driver safety and perceptual-motor skills among different age groups of young drivers, along with the relationships between self-evaluated skills and driving behaviour. The sample consisted of a stratified random sample of 18–25-year-old drivers from the Finnish driving licence register. The questionnaires, which included the Driver Skill Inventory (DSI), Driver Behaviour Questionnaire (DBQ) and background information, were completed and returned by a total of 1,058 participants. While female drivers assessed their safety skills to be higher than their perceptual-motor skills, the opposite was true for males. In both sexes, perceptual-motor skills increased, and safety skills decreased with experience. Perceptual-motor skills correlated negatively with safety skills, lapses and errors, but positively with aggressive and ordinary violations. Safety skills correlated negatively with all DBQ variables. Safety orientation seems to be most clearly reflected in deliberate aberrant driving behaviours. Sex differences were observed in the development of behaviours and skills, perceptual-motor skills only increased with age among males, while safety skills decreased through experience among both men and women. Results showed that driving experience was strongly related to both driving style (violations, errors) and the drivers’ view of their skills (safety orientation), highlighting the importance of the first few years of driving.

Original languageEnglish
Article number840269
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022


  • driver behaviour
  • learning
  • perceptual-motor skills
  • risk
  • safety skills
  • young drivers


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