Parents and young drivers: the role of learning, behaviour modelling, communication and social marketing
The rates of death and injury amongst young novice drivers remain disproportionately higher than for any other group of licensed drivers despite a range of measures such as the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) and mass media-based safety education campaigns. To date, there has been little research examining the role of a critical reference group - parents - in influencing novice driver learning and behaviour, with studies predominantly concentrating on the role of parental supervision and the effectiveness of the GLS. In this qualitative study, learner and novice drivers and their parents were recruited take part in a series of focus groups in order to gain insight into how parents teach their children to drive and the perceived experiences of both groups. Research findings suggest the negative behaviour parents modelled conflicted with the safe driving habits they attempted to teach. The research also found parents struggled with confidence, competence and communication while acting as driving instructors. These findings are discussed from both an upstream and downstream social marketing perspective. The development of downstream interventions that focus on parents' role in shaping young drivers' attitudes could positively influence novice driver safety.