The psychosocial purpose of driving and its relationship with the risky driving behaviour of young novice drivers

  • B. Scott-Parker, M.J. King, B. Watson
  • Transportation Research Part F Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, August 2015, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2015.06.004

The psychosocial purpose of driving and its relationship with the behaviour of young novice drivers

What is it about?

We know that young drivers are typically adolescents, and as such they are traversing the important developmental milestones of growing and developing from a child into an adult. We also know that young drivers drive for reasons apart from being a relatively efficient and effective form of travel from point A to point B. We also know that one of the reasons that young drivers commonly report driving is to serve psychosocial needs such as seeing friends. However, there is no reliable or valid short survey which can measure the psychosocial reason for driving. We developed a reliable and valid scale to measure the psychosocial purpose of driving for young drivers which can be used to guide intervention efforts.

Why is it important?

We initially developed a 7 item scale, the Psychosocial Purpose Driving Scale, however, this was refined to a reliable and valid 4 item Psychosocial Purpose Driving Scale (PSPDS) comprising freedom, driving for independence, driving to show you are now an adult, and driving to relax.


Dr Bridie Scott-Parker
University of the Sunshine Coast

The four item PSPDS points to a variety of avenues for intervention. Driving to show that you are now an adult exerts a positive influence on driving behaviour, so interventions could capitalise upon driving to show you are an adult as an effective way to improve young driver road safety. Young drivers who reported driving to see their friends more easily, for freedom, for independence, and for relaxing, actually tended to be more risky drivers, therefore, interventions could suggest alternate ways to gain freedom and independence, and to relax. Viable alternative transportation methods such as taking a taxi or public transport could be emphasised. Freedom could be gained through measures such as employment, and relaxing could be gained through activities such as hobbies. Therefore, it is important that intervention in young driver road safety recognises that driving for young novice drivers is not just all about getting from Point A to Point B, and that driving serves many purposes.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Bridie Scott-Parker