ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Psychosocial influences on drug driving in young Australian drivers

Armstrong, K, Wills, Andrew (Peer reviewed)

Drink/Drug Driving


Epidemiological evidence regarding the occurrence of drug driving amongst young drivers is concerning. This study examined the prevalence of drug driving in a sample of 331 young Australian drivers (average age 24 years), as well as a number of social and psychological influences associated with the behaviour. Results revealed that 26% reported having driven under the influence of psychoactive drugs at least once in their lifetime, and 15% indicated driving within 6 hours of taking  drugs and alcohol. While no participants reported being convicted of a drug driving offence, 3% had been involved in one or more crashes whilst drug driving (10% of those who had ever drug driven). Investigations revealed that drug driving behaviour was significantly correlated with vicarious punishment avoidance (r = .41) and direct punishment avoidance (r = .35), suggesting an important link between young peoples? perceptions about detection and punishment and their own propensity to drug drive. Sensation seeking (r = .24) and attitudes (r = .34) were also significantly correlated with drug driving. Further evidence indicated that those who perceived more social and non-social rewards than punishments associated with drug driving, were more likely to engage in the behaviour. Results suggest that perceptions about detection and punishment are an important influence upon drug driving behaviour for young drivers. The social and non-social rewards associated with drug driving also play an important role.