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The psychological distress of the young driver: a brief report
  1. Bridie Scott-Parker1,
  2. Barry Watson1,
  3. Mark J King1,
  4. Melissa K Hyde2
  1. 1Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety—Queensland, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia
  2. 2School of Psychology and Counselling, Queensland University of Technology, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Bridie Scott-Parker, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety—Queensland, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), 130 Victoria Park Road, Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4059, Australia; b.scott-parker{at}


The objective of the research was to explore the role of psychological distress in the self-reported risky driving of young novice drivers. A cross-sectional online survey incorporating Kessler's Psychological Distress Scale and the Behaviour of Young Novice Drivers Scale was completed by 761 tertiary students aged 17-25 years with an intermediate (Provisional) driving licence in Queensland, Australia, between August and October 2009. Regression analyses revealed that psychological distress uniquely explained 8.5% of the variance in young novices' risky driving, with adolescents experiencing psychological distress also reporting higher levels of risky driving. Psychological distress uniquely explained a significant 6.7% and 9.5% of variance in risky driving for males and females respectively. Medical practitioners treating adolescents who have been injured through risky behaviour need to be aware of the potential contribution of psychological distress, while mental health professionals working with adolescents experiencing psychological distress need to be aware of this additional source of potential harm. The nature of the causal relationships linking psychological distress and risky driving behaviour are not yet fully understood, indicating a need for further research so that strategies such as screening can be investigated.

  • Behavioural
  • driver
  • psychological

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  • Participant consent Participants were deemed to consent to participate if they completed the survey. The survey was accompanied by a participant information sheet, and information about the study purpose, risks and benefits expected from participation were repeated at item 1 in the online survey.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Queensland University of Technology.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.