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Young driver perceived risk and risky driving: applied theoretical approach to the Fatal-Five

Harbeck, E, Glendon, I, Hine, T

Young Drivers

ARSC conference 2015

Prominent determinants (e.g., age, gender, personality) of young driver (17-25years) engagement in risky driving (the 'Fatal 5') are enduring and difficult to change. Therefore, continued research is required of psychological variables that can be adapted within a young driver to aid targeted driver interventions to take action to reduce risky driving engagement. Protection motivation theory (PMT), specifically coping and threat appraisal elements, potentially provides additional understanding of young driver decision making in risky driving. Drivers (N = 601, 457 females, aged 17-25 years, M = 20.03, SD = 2.33) who held an Australian driver's license (P1, P2, or Open) anonymously completed a 143-item online survey to measure: 1) PMT for the Fatal 5, 2) perceived risk of driving related behaviours, and 3) the Behaviour of Young Novice Drivers Scale. Using structural equation modelling, the proposed path model of PMT on perceived risk and reported driving engagement showed that Perceived risk and Threat appraisal were the strongest predictors of reported risky driving engagement. As expected, threat appraisal and perceived risk were covariates. This adaptation of PMT is a novel contribution to the literature as the model helps us to understand what contributes to young driver engagement in risky driving (maladaptive pathway). It also explains why young novice drivers may not choose (adaptive pathway) to engage in risky driving. Applications and further implications of the model will also be discussed.