Reducing young drivers’ crash risk: Are we there yet? An ecological systems-based review of the last decade of research

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Cassarino, Marica
Murphy, Gillian
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The involvement of young novice drivers in road crashes and violations has remained a significant transport and public health issue worldwide. Despite extensive evidence that multiple individual, social, and environmental factors contribute to risk while driving, crashes among young novice drivers have decreased only marginally. There is a need to define clear indicators of risk as well as develop effective interventions. The current study reviews the literature on young novice drivers, including empirical studies, systematic reviews, and crash reports published over the past ten years to provide a synthesis of risk and protective factors across multiple domains, from individual characteristics, to social influences, to behavioural and social interventions, to the car and road environment. Adopting an ecological systems perspective, we discuss links between these domains to clarify the strongest indicators of risk for young novice drivers as compared to experienced drivers, and we collate the available evidence on social and environmental factors that can improve young drivers’ behaviour so to reduce the rate of their road crashes. Among the factors discussed, the incomplete maturation of cognitive skills crucial to safe driving (visual scanning, hazard anticipation, handling of in-vehicle distractions) and the higher susceptibility to social influences (especially peers and parents) emerged as the strongest determinants of discrepancies in performance between young novice and experienced drivers. Growing awareness of the complex array of factors intervening synergistically in young drivers’ risk, as well as technological advancements have led to the design of interventions with some level of effectiveness, however, further research and more robust programmes adopting ecological and holistic approaches are needed to fully address the young driver problem.
Young driver , Novice , Risk , Ecological systems , Development
Cassarino, M. and Murphy, G. (2018) 'Reducing young drivers’ crash risk: Are we there yet? An ecological systems-based review of the last decade of research', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 56, pp. 54-73. DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2018.04.003