Why are newly qualified motorists at high crash risk?

Lead author: Professor Richard Rowe, University of Sheffield

Date of Publication: October 2022

Uploaded to Knowledge Centre: 18 October 2022

Novice driver crash risk diminishes steeply over the first few months of driving. This study set out to explore the characteristics of driving over this period to identify behaviours that might underlie this change in risk.

The researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of 1,456 UK drivers aged 17–21 years, within six months of gaining their licence. They examined how various forms of driving exposure, such as weekly mileage and driving at night, were related to duration of licencing. They also explored the factor structure of the Early Driving Development Questionnaire (EDD-Q), a new instrument designed to measure safety relevant attitudes and behaviours in recently qualified drivers.

There was little evidence that greater exposure to risky driving situations was more common in those with shorter licence durations. Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analyses identified EDD-Q factors measuring risky style (12 items), skill deficiencies (8 items) and driving confidence (4 items). Licence duration was positively correlated with both risky style and confidence, with these relationships stronger for older novices. Licence duration was also negatively related to skill deficiencies (i.e., positively correlated with perceived driving skill development): this relationship was stronger in younger novices.

The negative correlation between license duration and skill deficiencies is consistent with the observation of decreasing novice crash involvement as experience is gained. The EDD-Q offers a new brief measure of aberrant driving that is specifically tailored for newly qualified drivers.

Download the full report from the Science Direct website: