Reducing crashes and injuries among young drivers: what kind of prevention should we be focusing on?
- Correspondence to: Dr H-Y Berg Driver Education Specialist, Vägverket (Swedish Road Administration), Röda vägen 1, 781 87 Borlänge, Sweden;
- Accepted 27 April 2006
Every year, drivers throughout the world are killed or injured in road traffic. Young drivers run a greater risk everywhere, and this problem is still largely unsolved. Better understanding of the underlying processes could, however, be a useful tool in preventive endeavours. To change a young driver’s goals behind driving and the context in which it is done, a variety of different methods of persuasion should be tested. Both “soft” and “hard” methods should be used. For example, communication and increased enforcement may be used simultaneously. Communication campaigns should highlight the dangers of unsafe behaviour and in particular target young males. Communication campaigns that employ persuasive, emotional messages are most effective where young drivers are concerned. Research shows that attitudes about safety are formed at an early age, long before legal driving, and therefore it would also be important to target young adolescents. Laws need enforcement to be effective and should target areas of particular risk to young drivers. Driver education or communication campaigns cannot be expected to radically change a young person’s life goals. For that purpose, active learning methods that make use of the learner’s own experiences have to be applied. Special courses for young drivers designed to make individuals conscious of their personal tendencies and the type of social context that affects their driving behaviour could be helpful, whether offered via the ordinary school system or at driving schools.