Background Little research has examined associations between traffic offences and risk of crash in novice drivers.
Methods 20 822 NSW drivers aged 17–24 years holding a provisional licence completed a detailed questionnaire; data were linked to driving offences, and police recorded crashes 2 years following participation. Poisson regression models were adjusted for multiple risk factors including driving exposure, risky driving, and previous crash and offences.
Results During follow-up, 9.0% of drivers had one crash, 0.6% had two crashes and 0.04% had three crashes; 35.3% of males had offences recorded compared to 21.3% of females and 41.1% of those reporting high levels of risky driving behaviours had offences compared to 16.3% of people reporting lower levels. In multivariable models, drivers who had any offence had a reduced risk of crash compared to those who had no offences (relative risk (RR) 0.47, 95%CI 0.41 to 0.54). The relationship was sustained for speeding and other offences, but not for reckless driving (RR 0.96, 95%CI 0.61 to 1.49) or alcohol related offences (RR 0.57, 95%CI 0.31 to 1.08). Having any driving offence was associated with increased time to crash (RR 1.21 95%CI 1.1 to 1.27 to 0.86).
Conclusion Traffic offences, particularly speeding related offences, are associated with reduced risk of crash for novice drivers. These results suggest that enforcement based approaches are an important component of crash prevention programs for novice drivers.
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