Speeding by young novice drivers: What can personal characteristics and psychosocial theory add to our understanding?

  • Bridie Scott-Parker, Melissa K. Hyde, Barry Watson, Mark J. King
  • Accident Analysis & Prevention, January 2013, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.04.010

Speeding by young novice drivers

What is it about?

Speeding is one of the most common and pervasive risky road use behaviours by drivers of all ages, but is particularly problematic for young and novice drivers given their driving inexperience. Travelling in excess of posted speed limits reduces the time available to detect hazards and to respond appropriately to those hazards. Given that young drivers are already a vulnerable road user group (due to these inexperience related factors), we need to understand what variables contribute to speeding behaviour so that we may effectively intervene.

Why is it important?

Personal characteristics such as driver gender and their current level of depression predicted self reported speeding, such that if they were male and they reported experiencing depression they were more likely to report speeding whilst driving. Car ownership and sensitivity to reward also predicted self reported speeding; young drivers who had their own car and who were more sensitive to external rewards (e.g., arriving at a destination more quickly, or having their friends think that they were cool for engaging in reported risky driving) reported more speeding and by larger margins. Personal attitudes, a variable captured within Akers’ theory, also explained speeding, such that if they had risky attitudes towards speeding (i.e., ‘it’s okay to speed’) they were more likely to report speeding behaviour. Previous driving behaviour, however, remained the strongest predictor of current driving behaviour; if the learner reported speeding, they were much more likely to report speeding as a P-plater and by larger margins.


Dr Bridie Scott-Parker
University of the Sunshine Coast

A wealth of young driver research does not apply theoretical models. However, this research revealed that theoretical models can not only guide our understanding of risk factors, but also guide the direction of interventions. For example, prior behaviour is highly influential, with young drivers much more likely to currently report speeding by larger margins if they had sped previously. Therefore, interventions should target speeding by the learner. Interventions should also consider targeting the supervising driver, which is most commonly the parent.

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