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.
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