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The impact of changes to the graduated driver licensing program in Queensland, Australia on the experiences of Learner drivers.

Research paper by Bridie J BJ Scott-Parker, Lyndel L Bates, Barry C BC Watson, Mark J MJ King, Melissa K MK Hyde

Indexed on: 07 May '11Published on: 07 May '11Published in: Accident Analysis & Prevention



Abstract

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) has been introduced in numerous jurisdictions in Australia and internationally in an attempt to ameliorate the significantly greater risk of death and injury for young novice drivers arising from road crashes. The GDL program in Queensland, Australia, was extensively modified in July 2007. This paper reports the driving and licensing experiences of Learner drivers progressing through the current-GDL program, and compares them to the experiences of Learners who progressed through the former-GDL program.Young drivers (n=1032, 609 females, 423 males) aged 17-19 years (M=17.43, SD=0.67) were recruited as they progressed from a Learner to a Provisional driver's licence. They completed a survey exploring their sociodemographic characteristics, driving and licensing experiences as a Learner. Key measures for a subsample (n=183) of the current-GDL drivers were compared with the former-GDL drivers (n=149) via t-tests and chi-square analyses.As expected, Learner drivers progressing through the current-GDL program gained significantly more driving practice than those in the former program, which was more likely to be provided by mothers than in the past. Female Learners in the current-GDL program reported less difficulty obtaining supervision than those in the former program. The number of attempts needed to pass the practical driving assessment did not change, nor did the amount of professional supervision. The current-GDL Learners held their licence for a significantly longer duration than those in the former program, with the majority reporting that their Logbook entries were accurate on the whole. Compared to those in the former program, a significantly smaller proportion of male current-GDL Learners reported being detected for a driving offence whilst the females reported significantly lower crash involvement. Most current-GDL drivers reported undertaking their supervised practice at the end of the Learner period.The enhancements to the GDL program in Queensland appear to have achieved many of their intended results. The current-GDL Learners participating in the study reported obtaining a significantly greater amount of supervised driving experience compared to former-GDL Learners. Encouragingly, the current-GDL Learners did not report any greater difficulty in obtaining supervised driving practice, and there was a decline in the proportion of current-GDL Learners engaging in unsupervised driving. In addition, the majority of Learners do not appear to be attempting to subvert logbook recording requirements, as evidenced by high rates of self-reported logbook accuracy. The results have implications for the development and the evaluation of GDL programs in Australia and around the world.