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Traffic Inj Prev. 2011 Dec;12(6):559-67. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2011.621000.

Mileage, car ownership, experience of punishment avoidance, and the risky driving of young drivers.

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  • 1Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety-Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Australia.



Young drivers are at greatest risk of injury or death from a car crash in the first 6 months of independent driving. In Queensland, the graduated driver licensing (GDL) program was extensively modified in July 2007 in order to reduce this risk. Increased mileage and car ownership have been found to play a role in risky driving, offenses, and crashes; however, GDL programs typically do not consider these variables. In addition, young novice drivers' experiences of punishment avoidance have not previously been examined. This article explores the mileage (duration and distance), car ownership, and punishment avoidance behaviors of young newly licensed intermediate (provisional) drivers and their relationship to risky driving, crashes, and offenses.


Drivers (n = 1032) aged 17 to 19 years recruited from across Queensland for longitudinal research completed survey 1 exploring prelicense and learner experiences and sociodemographic characteristics. survey 2 explored the same variables with a subset of these drivers (n = 341) after they had completed their first 6 months of independent driving.


Most young drivers in survey 2 reported owning a vehicle and paying attention to police presence. Drivers who had their own cars reported significantly greater mileage and more risky driving. Novices who drove more kilometers, spent more hours each week driving, or avoided actual and anticipated police presence were more likely to report risky driving. These drivers were also more likely to report being detected by police for a driving-related offense. The media, parents, friends, and other drivers play a pivotal role in informing novices of on-road police enforcement operations.


GDL programs should incorporate education for the parent and novice driver regarding the increased risks associated with greater driving, particularly when the novice driver owns a vehicle. Parents should be encouraged to delay exclusive access to a vehicle. Parents should also consider whether their young novices will deliberately avoid police if they are aware of their location. This may reinforce not only the risky behavior but also young novices' beliefs that their parents condone this behavior.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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