Safer driving agreements in the Australian context: Can they be effective?
Keywords: Young Drivers
Submission Date: 2013
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Prior research suggests that greater parental involvement in the safety and learning of their young novice driver can have a positive impact on their child’s safety. Safer driving agreements, which typically involve a formal statement of driving conditions and restrictions ratified by a driver and another party, most often parents, are an increasingly common initiative to enhance young novice driver safety. However, there are few formal evaluations of such initiatives and the limited available research suggests only modest differences in traffic violations, and minimal impacts on crash involvement. The current paper reports on an assessment of the potential efficacy of safer driving agreements in the Australian context, via a literature review and extensive stakeholder and community consultations. Specifically, discussions were conducted with an expert panel of United States researchers and program developers; a survey was completed with Australian police, transport and motoring stakeholders; and focus groups and surveys were completed with young drivers and parents. Overall, results suggested mixed understanding of, and support for, safer driving agreements in Australia, with issues relating to voluntary participation and accurate monitoring of behaviour cited as major barriers. Indeed, the potential effectiveness of the initiative was largely perceived as being limited to those young drivers who are already safety conscious, and as being dependent on existing strong relationships with parents (e.g., trust, honesty and respect). Implications of the study and recommendations for future research are discussed.