NCR P-plate
Published on November 19th 2021 in

Young drivers needed to help reduce crashes

A first time P-plater is 33 times more likely to have a car accident than a learner driver, but the risk of them crashing halves six months after they get their licence.

UNSW Science’s School of Aviation is attempting to work out what can improve young drivers’ behaviour in their first six months of driving and needs volunteers who have just got their P-plates to take part. “Understanding the challenges and risks young novice drivers face during the first few months of driving is important in reducing these risks,” said Dr Brett Molesworth from UNSW Science’s School of Aviation.

Drivers under the age of 25 are overrepresented in motor vehicle accidents as they make up just 15% of the driving population yet are 21% of drivers in NSW involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Dr Molesworth says knowledge about driver behaviour is captured post-crash, or through self-reporting measures. “While these methods can provide insight into driver behaviour, they often fail to capture all the factors that affect young drivers. So we know very little about the challenges young drivers face, what factors put them at risk when driving, and how they respond to these challenges.”

As part of the study, the cars of young drivers in their first four months of driving after obtaining their P1 licence will be fitted with a GPS, radar and cameras which will record visuals both inside and outside the vehicle. “This will let us know where the driver is, the speed they are travelling at, the speed zone they are located in, the drivers’ actions as well as the environment they are in,” said Dr Molesworth.

The aim of the study is two-fold:

  • “First, we want to understand how young newly licenced drivers operate their motor vehicle, so we can learn about the challenges young novice drivers experience, as well as what factors put these drivers at risk of a motor vehicle crash.”
  • “Second, we want to test the efficacy of a new intervention we developed and tested in the laboratory, to reduce young novice drivers’ speeding behaviour. This intervention – after a 20 minute drive – involves getting the young driver to think about their driving performance from a drive just undertaken, in terms of the speed they elected to travel at, and providing them feedback about their speed choice, which includes information about the potential consequences associated with speeding.”

The knowledge gained from the study will be used to improve road safety, ultimately reducing the number of road crashes and fatalities.

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