“I would have lost the respect of my friends and family if they knew I had bent the road rules”: Parents, peers, and the perilous behaviour of young drivers

  • B. Scott-Parker, B. Watson, M.J. King, M.K. Hyde
  • Transportation Research Part F Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, January 2015, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.trf.2014.10.004

Parents, peers, and the perilous behaviour of young drivers

What is it about?

As discussed in a number of other papers (“They’re lunatics on the road”: Exploring the normative influence of parent, friends, and police on young novices’ risky driving decisions and The psychosocial purpose of driving and its relationship with the risky driving behaviours of young novice drivers), we know that young driver behaviour is influenced by the social sources of parents and friends. We wanted to explore this influence in greater depth.

Why is it important?

Young drivers who reported they had driven on the road even before they had a learner licence (pre-licence driving), and drove on the road unsupervised as a learner driver, reported that their parents were less likely to punish risky driving behaviour. These drivers were also more likely to imitate risky behaviour of their parents who also tended to be more risky drivers. If the young driver expected or had experienced social punishment from their friends, they reported less risky driving behaviour. However, drivers who experienced or expected rewards from their friends were more risky drivers and also reported more crash and offence involvement.


Dr Bridie Scott-Parker
University of the Sunshine Coast

Intervention in the young driver road safety realm needs to consider targetted intervention, such as parent-targeted intervention and friend-targeted intervention. The relationship between parental driving behaviour and young novice driving behaviour could be emphasised, particularly the relationship between a lack of punishment and risky driving behaviour by parents, which is being reflected as more risky driving behaviour (including crashes and offences) in the young novice driver. Young drivers in general should be targeted from the perspective of being an influential friend, encouraging punishment of risky driving behaviour, modelling of safe driving behaviour, and a lack of rewards for risky driving behaviour, within the friendship group.

Read Publication


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