Self-regulation differences across learner and probationary drivers: The impact on risky driving behaviours

Risky driving behaviors are a known contributor to young drivers’ overrepresentation in road trauma, with self-regulation suggested as an important associated construct, but yet to be extensively explored. The aims of this study were to examine the utility of self-determination theory in explaining risky driving behaviors and to explore differences between young Learner and Provisional (P1)- licensed drivers in regard to their self-regulated safety orientation and engagement in risky driving behaviors. Learners (n = 1038) and P1(n = 589) drivers, aged 16–19 years, responded to a 91-item online survey, including self-regulated safety orientation items adapted from self-determination theory and inattentive and intentional risky driving behavior items. Results showed that self-determination theory had good predictive power for the two types of risky driving behaviors for both license groups. Learner and P1 drivers’ engagement in risky behaviors was similar, however, the relative importance of self-regulated safety orientation elements to reduced engagement in these behaviors differed. Learners’ engagement in intentional risky behaviors reflected greater perceived effort/importance and pressure/tension compared to P1 drivers. Greater effort/importance is an overarching indicator of internalized regulation concerning safe driving behaviors, which might be primed when first exposed to driving. However, greater perceived pressure/tension suggests that internalization of self-regulatory processes is being suppressed during the Learner phase. This might stem from the required presence of driver trainers and supervisory drivers, as well as interactions with other road users. Whilst only tentative explanations in this first exploration, the findings suggest there is potential for greater efforts in Learner driver training and supervision to encompass the types of skills and learning that encourage the development of self-regulation to reduce risky driving behaviors during both the Learner and P1 stage. These findings contribute to the limited research regarding self-regulation by young novice drivers and informs a better understanding of the psychological influences of engagement in risky driving behaviors, including the first such examination among early independent licensed drivers.


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  • Accession Number: 01769021
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 13 2021 3:15PM