In 2011, a six year accompanied driving experiment started in the Netherlands. This questionnaire study investigated which youngsters (intend to) participate and why, with the purpose of assessing whether there is a potential self-selection bias that can be relevant for the oncoming evaluation of its effect on road crash involvement.
A total of 1,474 respondents between 16 and 17.5 years old completed a digital questionnaire in four parts: (1) biographical characteristics; (2) familiarity with accompanied driving and intention to participate; (3) safety- and risk-mindedness and sensation seeking; (4) arguments in favour or against participation.
The most important reasons to choose accompanied driving relate to the fact that it allows for an earlier start to drive a car, followed by safety-related reasons. The accompanied driving group was found to be comparable to the intended reference group in terms of safety-mindedness and risk-mindedness. Boys are slightly overrepresented in the accompanied driving group as are youngsters receiving higher level education. Youngsters who want to start driving immediately after their 18th birthday, either through accompanied driving or through the regular licensing process at the age of 18, are more inclined to like risk and speed than those who want to start driving at a later stage or not at all.
Based on the current study, a self-selection bias is likely to be limited to gender and level of education. Especially gender is known to affect crash risk; the effect of the level of education is less clear. There were no indications for a self-selection bias in terms of safety- or risk-mindedness. Participating in the accompanied driving programme seems to be particularly inspired by mobility and fun arguments. This could mean that ‘accompanied drivers’ have more liking for car driving than the ‘traditional drivers’, resulting in a higher mileage once driving solo. This emphasizes the need for taking into account the distance travelled when assessing the road safety effect of accompanied driving. The difference between early and late starters in risk-mindedness needs further validation but could be an additional factor explaining the high risk of young drivers.