Understanding the psychosocial factors influencing the risky behaviour of young drivers

  • Scott-Parker B
  • Watson B
  • King M
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Young people aged 17-24 years are at high risk of being killed in road crashes around the world. Road safety interventions consider some influences upon young driver behaviour; for example, imposing passenger restrictions on young novice drivers indirectly minimises the potential negative social influences of peers as passengers. To change young driver risky behaviour, the multitude of psychosocial influences upon its initiation and maintenance must be identified. A study questionnaire was developed to investigate the relationships between risky driving and Akers' social learning theory, social identity theory, and thrill seeking variables. The questionnaire was completed by 165 participants (105 women, 60 men) residing in south-east Queensland, Australia. The sociodemographic variables of age, gender, and exposure explained 19% of the variance in self-reported risky driving behaviour, whilst Akers' social learning variables explained an additional 42%. Thrill seeking and social identity variables did not explain any significant additional variance. Significant predictors of risky driving included imitation of the driving behaviours of, and anticipated rewards and punishments administered by, parents and peers. Road safety policy that directly considers and incorporates these factors in their design, implementation, and enforcement of young driver road safety interventions should prove more efficacious than current approaches.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Risky driving
  • Road safety
  • Social identity theory
  • Social learning theory
  • Young drivers

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  • Bridie Scott-Parker

  • B Watson

  • Mark J King

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