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Methodology and broader implication sof young driver research published in Traffic Injury Prevention in the past five years.
Young drivers continue to be overrepresented in road crash fatalities, despite a multitude of research, communications and interventions implemented in recent years. The effectiveness of these efforts, however, depends largely on the quality of research methodologies employed. Participant characteristics, such as their age and experience, how and where they are recruited, and final sample size and representativeness have significant implications for the generalisability of findings. The aim of the current research is to critique methodologies applied in recent young driver literature and propose broader implications for on-going research and practice. Articles on ‘young driver’ and ‘teen driver’ research published in Traffic Injury Prevention between 1 January 2008 and 31 December 2012 were identified as part of a larger study assessing leading road safety journals. Methodology details (participants, study design), were tabulated, and the broader implications for young driver communications and interventions were considered. Thirty relevant studies were identified, of which 80% originated from high-income countries. Both genders were generally included with ‘young driver’ ages ranging from 15-35 years and one-third of papers also sampling according to level of driving experience but with ‘novice driver’ ages ranging to 65 years. Almost three-quarters relied on methods other than crash databases, the majority (60%) of which were self-report surveys,
(only two of these were based on nationally-representative surveys), and just less than 25% were sourced from school and university students. Overall these factors limited the comparability and generalisability of the findings. To optimise young and novice driver road safety, improved study designs applied with more representative and more narrowly comparable samples are needed. In addition, improved completeness of both the extent and the implications of the reported information (such as response rates, the use of incentives), and the generalisability of the findings are required. These improvements in young driver research and reporting are vital to accurately inform and guide young driver communication and intervention development and implementation.