“My mother would freak out”: Understanding the influence of parents on the risky behaviour of their young novice drivers
Parents can influence the driving behaviour of their young novice drivers in a variety of ways. Research was undertaken to explore and identify the nature and mechanisms of parental influence upon novice drivers (16-25 years) to inform the design of more effective young driver countermeasures. The mechanisms and nature of parental influence on young novice drivers were explored in small group interviews (n = 21) and three surveys (n1 = 761, n2 = 1170, n3 = 390) in a larger Queensland-wide study. Surveys two and three were part of a six-month longitudinal study. Parental influence appeared to occur across the pre-Licence, Learner, and Provisional (intermediate) periods. The most risky novice drivers (in terms of pre-Licence driving, unsupervised driving while a Learner, and risky driving behaviours such as speeding) reported that their parents were less likely to punish risky driving, and that their parents – who they were more likely to imitate – were also risky drivers (indicated by crashes and offences). Parents appear influential in the risky behaviour of young novice drivers. Interventions enhancing their positive influence may improve road safety outcomes not only for young novice drivers, but for all persons who share the road with them. Among the interventions warranting further development and evaluation are programs to encourage the modelling of safe driving behaviour by parents; continued parental monitoring of driving during the pre-Licence, Learner and Provisional periods (e.g., Checkpoints program); and sharing the family vehicle during the first six months of independent licensure.