Monitoring learner driving experience: changes from 1999 to 2000
There is evidence from Swedish research (Gregersen, 1996) that higher levels of supervised driving experience accumulated by learner permit holders are associated with a lower risk of accident involvement during the first year of driving after acquiring a solo licence. Several Victorian organisations have taken actions intended to encourage or facilitate the accumulation of supervised experience by learner drivers, in the expectation that this will lead to reduced accident rates for new probationary licence holders. Some form of monitoring or evaluation is required to determine whether these programs have been successful in increasing the average amount and variety of experience accumulated by learner permit holders.
In 1999, VicRoads commissioned ARRB Transport Research Ltd (ARRB TR) to develop and carry out a survey of novice drivers to obtain information about the amount and variety of supervised driving experience accumulated by learner drivers in Victoria prior to obtaining a probationary licence. Using information collected from learner permit holders and newly licensed drivers, ARRB TR calculated estimates of the average amount and variety of driving experience accumulated during the learner permit period for all Victorian learners and for various sub-populations (Catchpole and Stephenson, 2001).
VicRoads commissioned Research International (a market research company) to repeat the surveys of learner permit holders and newly licensed drivers in 2000. Apart from a minor difference in sample stratification, the surveys conducted in 2000 were in all other respects identical to those that had been conducted in 1999.
In 2001, ARRB TR was commissioned by VicRoads to compare the results of the 1999 and 2000 surveys; document any changes in amount and type of learner driver experience between the two surveys; and document changes in factors addressed by the surveys that may influence the accumulation of driving experience by learner permit holders.
This conference paper summarises the methods used and the major findings of the comparison. A complete account of the project has been given by Catchpole and Coutts (2002).