Young driver education programs that build resilience have potential to reduce road crashes
Senserrick T., Ivers R., Boufous S., Chen HY., Norton R., Stevenson M., van Beurden E., Zask A.
OBJECTIVE: The research aimed to explore associations between participation in 2 education programs for school-based learner drivers and subsequent road traffic offenses and crashes among a large cohort of newly licensed drivers. METHODS: DRIVE is a prospective cohort study of 20822 first-year drivers aged 17 to 24 in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Participants completed a detailed questionnaire and consented to data linkage in 2003-2004. Questionnaire items included year of participation in 2 specific education programs: a 1-day workshop-only program focusing on driving risks ("driver-focused") and a whole-of-community program also including a 1-day workshop but also longer term follow-up activities and a broader focus on reducing risk-taking and building resilience ("resilience-focused"). Survey data were subsequently linked to police-reported crash and offense data for 1996-2005. Poisson regression models that adjusted for multiple confounders were created to explore offenses and crashes as a driver (dichotomized as 0 vs >or=1) after program participation. RESULTS: Offenses did not differ between groups; however, whereas the driver-focused program was not associated with reduced crash risk, the resilience-focused program was associated with a 44% reduced relative risk for crash (0.56 [95% confidence interval: 0.34-0.93]). CONCLUSIONS: The large effect size observed and complementary findings from a comparable randomized, controlled trial in the United States suggest programs that focus more generally on reducing risks and building resilience have the potential to reduce crashes. A large, representative, randomized, controlled trial is urgently needed to confirm road safety benefits and ensure evidence-based spending and practitioner recommendations in this field.