By Lyndel Bates

This brief is based on the following paper:

Bates, L., Hawkins, A., Rodwell, D., Anderson, L., Watson, B., Filtness, A. & Larue, G. 2019, The effect of psychosocial factors on perceptions of driver education using the Goals for Driver Education framework, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 66, 151-161.

What problem does your research address? Why is this significant?

Young people experience higher rates of deaths and injuries from crashes when compared with older drivers (McCartt, Mayhew, Braitman, Ferguson, & Simpson, 2009). Driver education and training is one countermeasure suggested to reduce these crashes. However, research has failed to identify that professional driver education and training is more beneficial for young drivers, over and above private instruction (Bates, Filtness, & Watson, 2018; Beanland, Goode, Salmon, & Lenne, 2013). It is possible that identifying how psychosocial factors affect perceptions in driver education may contribute to improved driver education program design, content and implementation.

How did you conduct your research?

An online survey was completed by 114 young drivers (M = 17.89 years, SD = 0.85) who had attended a driver education course within the past three years. The survey collected information regarding age, gender, perceptions of the benefits of driver education at each of four levels within the Goals for Driver Education framework and four psychosocial factors: driver thrill seeking, normlessness, attitudes to driver risk taking and positive attitudes to speeding.

What are your major findings?

Psychosocial factors do affect young driver perceptions of driver education and training. Individuals that had higher levels of thrill seeking believed it was beneficial for driver education to focus on vehicle manoeuvring, mastery of traffic situations and the goals and contexts for driving. Individuals with higher levels of normlessness thought it would beneficial for training to include information about the goals and contexts of driving.

What does your research mean for policy and practice?

The findings of this study suggest that the way driver education and training is approached may need further consideration. For instance, there may be a need to personalise education as much as possible to take into account various individualised psychosocial factors. One method of doing this may involve designing and delivering driver education programs through more flexible options such as through an online program that measures attitudes and psychosocial in the early components of an intervention. The program is then adjusted to individualise it for each participant.


Bates, L., Filtness, A., & Watson, B. (2018). Driver Education and Licensing Programs. In D. Lord & S. Washington (Eds.), Safe Mobility: Background, Challenges and Solutions. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.

Beanland, V., Goode, N., Salmon, P., & Lenne, M. (2013). Is there a case for driver training? A review of the efficacy of pre- and post-licence driver training. Safety Science, 51, 127-137.

McCartt, A., Mayhew, D., Braitman, K., Ferguson, S. A., & Simpson, H. (2009). Effects of age and experience on young driver crashes: Review of recent literature. Traffic Injury Prevention, 10(3), 209-219.