Pushing New Zealand roads to the limit - chosen speeds of young and inexperienced drivers across differing road conditions
Young and inexperienced drivers are overrepresented in the number of injurious and fatal crashes occurring on New Zealand roads each year. Driving at an inappropriate speed for road conditions is a significant contributing factor in road crashes for drivers aged under 25. We used a slightly modified version of the validated video-based speed choice task from Horswill and McKenna (1999), in order to investigate young inexperienced and older experienced drivers’ speed choices across 5 different New Zealand road environments (motorway, rural, semi-rural, urban, suburban). Results revealed that young novice drivers selected speeds adhering closely to the posted speed limit, irrespective of driving conditions, whereas older experienced drivers selected speeds clearly below the posted limit whilst demonstrating greater variation in preferred speeds across the different road environments. Faster preferred speeds were found to be related to riskier attitudes towards driving in general, and more lenient attitudes toward speeding in particular. In addition, faster preferred speeds were found to be related to a heightened enjoyment in risk taking, as well increased number of speeding convictions during the previous 12 months.