Speeding by young novice drivers: What can personal characteristics and psychosocial theory add to our understanding?

Research paper by Bridie B Scott-Parker, Melissa K MK Hyde, Barry B Watson, Mark J MJ King

Indexed on: 23 May '12Published on: 23 May '12Published in: Accident Analysis & Prevention


Young novice drivers continue to be overrepresented in fatalities and injuries arising from crashes even with the introduction of countermeasures such as graduated driver licensing (GDL). Enhancing countermeasures requires a better understanding of the variables influencing risky driving. One of the most common risky behaviours performed by drivers of all ages is speeding, which is particularly risky for young novice drivers who, due to their driving inexperience, have difficulty in identifying and responding appropriately to road hazards. Psychosocial theory can improve our understanding of contributors to speeding, thereby informing countermeasure development and evaluation. This paper reports an application of Akers' social learning theory (SLT), augmented by Gerrard and Gibbons' prototype/willingness model (PWM), in addition to personal characteristics of age, gender, car ownership, and psychological traits/states of anxiety, depression, sensation seeking propensity and reward sensitivity, to examine the influences on self-reported speeding of young novice drivers with a Provisional (intermediate) licence in Queensland, Australia.Young drivers (n=378) recruited in 2010 for longitudinal research completed two surveys containing the Behaviour of Young Novice Drivers Scale, and reported their attitudes and behaviours as pre-Licence/Learner (Survey 1) and Provisional (Survey 2) drivers and their sociodemographic characteristics.An Akers' measurement model was created. Hierarchical multiple regressions revealed that (1) personal characteristics (PC) explained 20.3%; (2) the combination of PC and SLT explained 41.1%; (3) the combination of PC, SLT and PWM explained 53.7% of variance in self-reported speeding. Whilst there appeared to be considerable shared variance, the significant predictors in the final model included gender, car ownership, reward sensitivity, depression, personal attitudes, and Learner speeding.These results highlight the capacity for psychosocial theory to improve our understanding of speeding by young novice drivers, revealing relationships between previous behaviour, attitudes, psychosocial characteristics and speeding. The findings suggest multi-faceted countermeasures should target the risky behaviour of Learners, and Learner supervisors should be encouraged to monitor their Learners' driving speed. Novice drivers should be discouraged from developing risky attitudes towards speeding.