Driver education/training courses for newly licensed drivers: who participates and for what reasons? findings from the new zealand drivers study
Purpose: In New Zealand little is known about participation in driver education/ training courses, especially those that qualify drivers for a “time discount” on their restricted licence. The purpose of this investigation was: to determine participation in courses; compare the characteristics of those who did and did not take part in a course; examine the main reasons for course participation.
Method: As part of the New Zealand Drivers Study, a multistage prospective cohort study of 3992 newly licensed drivers, data were sought on driving experiences during the graduated licence stages (learner, restricted and full) at which time NZDS interviews were undertaken. This investigation focused on courses at the restricted licence stage, when a time discount could be attained. Questions included: knowledge of, participation in, and reason for participation in each course.
Results: 94% (n=1665) had heard of, and 49% (n=868) attended a Defensive Driving Course (DDC). Very few (7%) knew of, or participated (1%) in other courses. The remaining analysis focused on the DDC. Compared with others, the DDC participants were: younger, non-Māori, low deprivation, relatively law abiding, low risk-takers, less likely to crash on learner or restricted licence. For 87% the main reason for doing the DDC was to pass the full licence test/get a full licence sooner.
Conclusion: Those who attended a DDC were relatively safe young drivers keen to get a full licence. The “time discount” was the main incentive for doing a DDC. The safety implications of a “time discount” require further investigation.