Novice drivers in rural areas display riskier behaviour

A QUEENSLAND researcher has learned novice drivers in rural areas are more likely to engage in risky behaviour while substance impaired.

University of the Sunshine Coast research fellow Bridie Scott-Parker said while there was little separating the behaviour of young city and country drivers, the latter knew where police were and would try to avoid them.

She said she found 16% of the 1268 young drivers in her study admitted they had alcohol and then drove even though they should have no alcohol in their system, with men more likely to imbibe before taking the wheel.

Ms Scott-Parker said people in rural areas were more likely to engage in risky behaviour behind the wheel while substance-impaired - including avoiding police, carrying too many passengers, speeding and not wearing seatbelts.

"Young people who have been drinking were more likely to report those behaviours that can unfortunately have some really bad outcomes," she said.

Ms Scott-Parker - who presented her research at the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety in Brisbane on Tuesday - said the learning phase was the safest and the P1 drivers were at greatest risk in Queensland.

She said young people, aged 17 to 25, represented 13% of the population and 22% of the fatalities.

Ms Scott-Parker said she was about to embark on a three-year pilot study, involving 500 new drivers, on the Sunshine Coast to reduce the number of young drivers dying on Queensland roads.

She said she believed keeping mum and dad involved after the L-plates came off could be the first step in a cultural shift needed.

Ms Scott-Parker said the trial also would investigate whether alcohol ignition interlocks would reduce risky behaviour, whether an app in the learner phase would promote practising before the licence test, how young drivers react with different supervisors and how they feel in a range of driving situations.

"We want to keep mum and dad involved as long as possible which will require a whole cultural shift," she said.

"In the 70s it was normal to go to pub on way home, get smashed and drive home and it was normal to not wear seat belts.

"Today there is a whole cultural shift away from that which required a lot of education, enforcement, engagement and introducing RBTs.

"This will require the same thing. I think parents underestimate how much their teens listen, even if it doesn't seem like they are."



  • 5.9% of males and 1.3% of females admitted driving after taking drugs.
  • 19.3% of males and 11.6% of females admitted driving after drinking alcohol.
  • 85.7% of novice drivers admitted speeding.
  • 82.7% of novice drivers admitted driving while tired.