Parents help young drivers stay safe

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Parents play an important part in helping young drivers comply with road rules and thereby reducing traffic violations and accidents according to a Griffith University study.

Dr Lyndel Bates from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and QUT researchers Millie Darvell and Barry Watson surveyed 236 Queensland drivers aged 17-24 (167 females, 66 males and three gender non-specific).

They found parental involvement was significant in helping provisional drivers adhere to road rules such as not speeding or making other risky decisions such as illegal U-turns.

The study also found that contrary to expectations P1 drivers (red P plate) were more likely to heed the advice of parents than P2 drivers (green P plate) who, on average, breached more road rules.

“Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is one of the most effective countermeasures in reducing young driver crashes, but as young drivers move through the licensing system they appear to break road rules more frequently,” Dr Bates said.

“The study surveyed young drivers regarding their perceptions of parental and police enforcement.”

“It found compared to P1 drivers, having a P2 licence significantly increased the likelihood of greater involvement in transient rule violations and overall non-compliant behaviour.”

Transient rule breaking is behaviour that stems from risky decision making (e.g. speeding, overtaking on the left) while decisions made prior to driving that violate fixed rules include drunken driving and carrying more passengers than allowed.

“Drivers with P2 licences reported more transient rule-breaking behaviour (such as speeding), a greater exposure to risky driving situations (such as driving while tired) and being more affected in their driving by mood (such as driving faster when in a bad mood).

“Parental involvement may be most critical and influential at the P1 licensing stage, after which it becomes superseded by deterrents beyond the family environment.”

Reducing rule-breaking behaviour

The study found that parents may have some role in limiting novice drivers’ rule-breaking behaviour that is more transient and spontaneous in nature, perhaps by encouraging or modelling a more consistent approach to safe driving.

It also found that drivers exposed to higher levels of enforcement for traffic and speeding offences were less compliant overall and more likely to violate both transient and fixed rules.

“Similar findings have been shown in previous research indicating that, rather acting as a deterrent, prior punishment experiences paradoxically appear to encourage future offending,’’ Dr Bates said.

She said a review of current policing strategies and related sanctions for your drivers was warranted, as well as consideration of alternative approaches to reducing offending behaviour.

These measures include third-party policing (police persuading non-offending parties such as parents, schools and health agencies to accept responsibility for preventing offending behaviour) and in-vehicle devices that monitor driving behaviour.

The study was published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology this month.

(Source: Griffith University, Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology)

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Date Created: July 25, 2015 Date Modified: July 29, 2015