13 Nov 2019
As hundreds of Year 12 students prepare to drive with friends to Schoolies celebrations this weekend, USC has launched a world-first project to teach young passengers road safety.
The free online program developed by the USC-based Adolescent Risk Research Unit (ARRU) aims to encourage teenage passengers to act as co-drivers and gain situation awareness skills even before they obtain a Learner licence.
Senior Research Fellow and ARRU Leader Dr Bridie Scott-Parker said it was ideal for anyone who did not have a licence and was planning to travel with young drivers over the school holidays.
“We know that many kids are leaving schools driving with a red P plate, which is one of the most dangerous times on the road for them with an increased risk of being involved in a fatal road crash,” Dr Scott-Parker said.
“Then we are going to complicate it further for the next few weeks by getting them to drive possibly quite long distances with lots of other young passengers in the car to get to their Schoolies venues.
“Encouraging passengers to figure out the risks in the driving environment can improve safety – and improve their own driving skills when they get their L-plates. As a co-driver rather than a passenger, if they see a risky situation, they can help the driver avoid potential hazards and crashes.”
Pre-learners aged 15-18-years and their parents, guardians and grandparents are invited to take part in the Young Passengers Road Safety research project, which is supported by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission.
Participation involves viewing online road safety training videos, completing four surveys and recording four in-car driving sessions with a GoPro camera. Participants will receive a gift card for each activity they complete.
The research project is an extension of the Adolescent Risk Research Unit’s SAFER Driving Intervention program which was developed for teenager drivers and their parents and later adapted for senior drivers.
Dr Scott-Parker designed the program after more than a decade investigating the behaviour of novice drivers behind the wheel.
“This program has helped to improve the road safety of drivers of all ages, ranging from our youngest learners to our oldest seniors,” she said. “This obvious next step is to see if it can improve the road skills of teen passengers.
“We believe that by teaching these road safety skills to pre-learners, we can instil positive driving attitudes and behaviours for when they start to drive.”
People interested in taking part in the study can contact the Adolescent Risk Research Unit be emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Clare McKay