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“I drove after drinking alcohol” and other risky driving behaviours reported by young novice drivers

  • Scott-Parker, Bridie
  • Watson, Barry
  • King, Mark J.
  • Hyde, Melissa K.1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • 1 University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research (USCAR), Faculty of Arts and Business, University of the Sunshine Coast
  • 2 Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q), Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
  • 3 Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI), QUT
  • 4 School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology
  • 5 Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University
Published Article
Accident Analysis & Prevention
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2014
Accepted Date
Mar 05, 2014
DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2014.03.002


Background: Volitional risky driving behaviours such as drink- and drug-driving (i.e. substance-impaired driving) and speeding contribute to the overrepresentation of young novice drivers in road crash fatalities, and crash risk is greatest during the first year of independent driving in particular. Aims: To explore the: (1) self-reported compliance of drivers with road rules regarding substance-impaired driving and other risky driving behaviours (e.g., speeding, driving while tired), one year after progression from a Learner to a Provisional (intermediate) licence; and (2) interrelationships between substance-impaired driving and other risky driving behaviours (e.g., crashes, offences, and Police avoidance). Methods: Drivers (n=1076; 319 males) aged 18–20 years were surveyed regarding their sociodemographics (age, gender) and self-reported driving behaviours including crashes, offences, Police avoidance, and driving intentions. Results: A relatively small proportion of participants reported driving after taking drugs (6.3% of males, 1.3% of females) and drinking alcohol (18.5% of males, 11.8% of females). In comparison, a considerable proportion of participants reported at least occasionally exceeding speed limits (86.7% of novices), and risky behaviours like driving when tired (83.6% of novices). Substance-impaired driving was associated with avoiding Police, speeding, risky driving intentions, and self-reported crashes and offences. Forty-three percent of respondents who drove after taking drugs also reported alcohol-impaired driving. Discussion and Conclusions: Behaviours of concern include drink driving, speeding, novice driving errors such as misjudging the speed of oncoming vehicles, violations of graduated driver licensing passenger restrictions, driving tired, driving faster if in a bad mood, and active punishment avoidance. Given the interrelationships between the risky driving behaviours, a deeper understanding of influential factors is required to inform targeted and general countermeasure implementation and evaluation during this critical driving period. Notwithstanding this, a combination of enforcement, education, and engineering efforts appear necessary to improve the road safety of the young novice driver, and for the drink-driving young novice driver in particular.

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