Background Graduated Driving Licences (GDL) have the potential to reduce injuries in novice drivers, who are at relatively high risk. However, there are concerns that some risk taking behaviour may be exacerbated by restrictions on, for instance, lift giving. Within the UK, a GDL scheme is planned for Northern Ireland (NI), but not other UK countries. We conducted qualitative research with young adults and parents in NI, England and Wales to identify potential impacts of GDL on injury risk to inform a future evaluation.
Methods Group interviews were held with 16 groups of young adults aged 16–21 and 4 groups of parents. A topic guide covered transport mode choices, incentives for learning to drive, experiences of driving/being a passenger, driving outside the system, telematics and potential impact of GDL restrictions.
Results In rural areas, cars remain essential for accessing work and study for young adults, and for providing spaces to socialise. Restricting provision of lifts for peers would erode mutual support that was part of informal economies. Risky driving (overcrowding, speeding, driving without a licence) was widely reported, and unlikely to be affected by new restrictions. Drink driving was universally disapproved of. Views on telematics were divided, with some in favour of the likely reduced insurance premiums, but others (particularly in NI) concerned at potential surveillance.
Conclusions GDL may have mixed results for reducing road injury in novice drivers, given much risky driving in rural (high risk) areas is ‘outside the system’, and may be increased by further legislation. However, participants were universally disapproving of one risk (drink driving) suggesting that attitudes to other risks may change as a result of GDL implementation. Evaluation of GDL will need to assess impact on population as well as licensed young driver injury rates to take into account possible reductions in access to cars and shifts towards more vulnerable modes.
- Graduated Driving License
- young adults
- qualitative research
- road injury
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