Young drivers

While South Australia’s road toll has decreased over the past decade, young drivers are still over–represented in road crashes, much more so than older age groups.

For many young people, getting a driver’s licence is one of the most important things they want to do in their life. However, it is also one of the riskiest things they will ever do.

Research has found four key reasons for the high levels of death and serious injuries in the young driver age group.

  1. Inappropriate risk taking

    Young drivers, particularly males, are more likely to drive too fast for the road conditions, drink drive, drug drive or not wear seatbelts.

  2. Inadequate perception of driving hazards.

    The skills to anticipate and accurately assess driving hazards develop over time. Young drivers often put themselves in potentially hazardous situations, without always realising it, for example, driving too close to the vehicle in front or running red lights rather than stopping in time.

  3. Passengers

    Young driver crash risk increases when they carry similar age passengers. This is likely to be due to distractions caused by the passengers, as well as peer pressure on the driver to take greater or more risks.

  4. Late night driving

    Many crashes that lead to the death of young drivers occur late at night, particularly on weekend nights and when carrying more than one passenger. This is likely to be due to inexperience in night driving as well as fatigue and risk taking. 

More information on the risks for young drivers is available in the Driver’s Handbook.

Graduated Licensing Scheme

Anyone wanting to get a driver’s licence in South Australia must progress through the Graduated Licensing Scheme (GLS). The GLS provides a staged progression from the Learner’s Permit time of supervised driving, through unsupervised but restricted solo driving (Provisional Licence), to unrestricted solo driving (Full Licence).

This staged approach encourages growth in knowledge, skills and driving experience, but under supervisory influences and restrictions. The restrictions are successively lifted or relaxed as the driver progresses through the stages.

Novice drivers who gain extensive experience in a range of road conditions become more able to deal with different driving events or adapting to conditions they are not used to. Such drivers also improve their hazard perception skills and ability to scan the road ahead, adding to the range of advanced thinking skills essential to the driving task. Obtaining large amounts of supervised driving hours has been shown to reduce young driver crashes.

Young drivers are at greatest risk of being involved in a crash in their first year of driving unsupervised when they are on their P-plates. Young drivers need significant on-road driving experience before their crash risk decreases.

The rules for drivers with a learner’s permit or a provisional licence have changed over the years. These changes are to help drivers progress safely, through the Graduated Licensing Scheme, towards a full driver’s licence.

More information: 

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