Modelling developmental trajectories of novice drivers with high and low crash liability

Lead Research Organisation: University of Greenwich
Department Name: Sch of Health and Social Care

Abstract

Road traffic crashes are one of the greatest threats to public health, particularly for young people, with a substantial social and economic cost to society. Novice drivers are overrepresented in casualty statistics, with risk being particularly high in the first six months of their driving careers. There is evidence that both deficiencies in driving skills and decisions to adopt risky driving styles (e.g., speeding and overtaking in dangerous places) contribute to novice vulnerability. Averaged over all drivers, the rate of collisions declines rapidly over the subsequent 18-24 months but does not plateau until drivers reach approximately 30 years of age. While the prevalence of road traffic injuries for novice drivers is well documented, there is still relatively little understanding of why crash liability is particularly high in the first three months of driving before decreasing steadily over time. Rather than all drivers following the same developmental pathways, we believe different types of novice driver will follow different trajectories of crash risk and behavioural development. For example, our preliminary analyses of the proposed dataset indicate that crash involvement differs on the basis of risky attitudes at the time of passing the driving test. Participants scoring in the top third of a risky attitudes scale showed an initially high rate of crash involvement that declined steeply after the first 6 months. The participants with less risky attitudes were at lower initial risk of crash and their risk did not show a similar pattern of decline. Our available resources meant our preliminary analysis could only use basic techniques. The full project will employ advanced statistical modelling techniques to identify sub-groups of novice drivers following different developmental trajectories of crash involvement and driver behaviour. We will then explore the extent to which trajectory is predicted by modifiable risk factors such as driving behaviour and experiences in learning to drive. These results will guide policy on education, assessment and management (e.g., graduated licensing) of learner and novice drivers to encourage drivers onto the lower risk trajectories rather than the higher risk.

Planned Impact

The proposed research will have wide ranging implications for road safety. The main beneficiaries of the project will be road safety professionals, policy makers, and academic researchers, with future newly-qualified drivers the ultimate beneficiaries.

Road safety professionals will be able to use the findings to better inform the development of targeted interventions aimed at reducing the elevated crash risk of newly-qualified drivers in the UK and internationally. Results of the analysis will be disseminated to the road safety community through a series of presentations at conferences and seminars, and via a specially designed project website which will be promoted through the online road safety network (e.g., roadsafetygb.org.uk, airso.org.uk etc). The results can be integrated into pre-test interventions in order to try to reduce potential crash liability prior to the start of drivers' licensed driving career. The project aims to highlight behaviours that predict membership of higher risk driver groups, and knowledge of factors associated with increased crash liability can be used by driver training practitioners to raise awareness of problem behaviour with learner drivers. Furthermore, the research will inform local government initiatives to prepare novice drivers for risks they might face on the road, such as the Learn Safe Drive Safe programme run by Sheffield City Council. The project team have considerable connections with the road safety community, which will facilitate dissemination of findings.
There will also be considerable implications for transport policy makers. The research findings will inform road safety policy, and provide an evidence base for decisions relating to newly-qualified drivers. The use of group-based modelling will also provide novel evidence on the provision and timing of intervention strategies and driver training programmes. Dissemination will be achieved through a number of ways including a one-day seminar held at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), with an invited audience of key individuals and organisations from the road safety community, including policy makers and researchers. The project will also provide an evidence-base with which to inform debates regarding post-test supervision/training, particularly regarding Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems, through exploration of the time course of risky driving behaviour and its relationship with elevated crash involvement. The results will have implications for the optimal lengths for such schemes in order to achieve reductions in traffic casualties.

The benefits for academic researchers will be in advancement in understanding the factors that are associated with the elevated crash risk, and the underlying behaviours related to the rapid decrease in crash liability over the first few months of licensure. There is limited theoretical work on novice driver behaviour, and the results of longitudinal analysis will contribute to the development of theoretical model to help explain the variance in behaviour among novice drivers. This will be achieved through publication of the research in high impact journals, and presentations at international conferences.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Our project aimed to identify behavioural underpinnings of the steep decrease in crash involvement observed in the early stages of driving using the Cohort II dataset. This study applied the Driver Behaviour Questionnaire (DBQ) longitudinally over the first 3 years of driving. As a preliminary step we addressed modelling issues regarding the underlying structure of the DBQ using a bifactor model (Rowe et al., 2015 Measuring errors and violations on the road: A bifactor modeling approach to the Driver Behavior Questionnaire. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 74, 118-125). Next we modelled the development of driver behaviour using latent class growth curve modelling. This technique has been well used in other health behaviour domains, but this is a novel application to driving behaviour in a dataset of this sort. We found aberrant driving behaviour increased over time, and identified trajectory classes in risk-taking and errors that were defined by the initial level of aberrant behaviour (Roman et al., in prep), implying that road safety intervention should target pre-drivers to help them start on a safer trajectory.
In relation to crash risk, longitudinal latent class analysis identified two trajectory classes: Drivers who crashed in the first 6 months of driving and subsequently had a low probability of crash involvement over the next 2.5 years, and drivers who did not have a crash in the first 6 months but had a persistently elevated risk for crash involvement over the next 2.5 years. Initial levels of all aberrant driving behaviours predicted membership of both crash risk groups, again highlighting the need for pre-driver interventions. Additionally, stronger increases in aggressive driving over time were related to persistently elevated crash risk, and negatively to high initial risk, indicating that interventions targeting aggression after licensure are also warranted (Poulter et al., in prep).
We have identified new research resources by linking the original collection of datasets into a single deposited dataset to expedite longitudinal analysis. Furthermore, our DBQ modelling work produced a shortened DBQ (Rowe et al., 2015) which we hope will facilitate its application in research and practice.
Important new research questions were raised by our research. We set out to identify the behavioural underpinnings of the dramatic decrease in novice crash risk over the early months of driving. We were puzzled that overall trends in risk-taking and errors, the best behavioural predictors of crash involvement, increased during this period. We hypothesised that heterogeneity in behavioural trajectories might underlie this discrepant pattern of findings, with the early reduction in crash risk possibly due to a sub-group of drivers initially high in risk-taking and then adopting a safer driving style. While our analyses did identify separable trajectory classes, none of the trajectories identified matched a pattern compatible with this hypothesis, indicating that simple changes in behaviour do not underlie the early decrease in crash involvement. Further research is required to explore alternative explanations.
Research capabilities were developed through training of the PI, the Co-I and the postdoctoral researcher on longitudinal growth modelling, factor analysis and data linking courses.
Exploitation Route From a policy perspective, our results highlight the need for intervention in pre-driving while indicating that measures to address aggressive driving after licensure would also be useful. Further research addressing the design and validation of effective interventions, applying models of behaviour change from health psychology, will be required to realise this impact. Our results also further emphasise links between novice risk-taking and crash involvement and therefore contribute to debates addressing legislation and enforcement, such as the potential safety benefits offered by Graduated Driving Licencing.
Project results have been disseminated via a one-day seminar at the Transport Research Laboratory, to an audience including representatives from government (e.g., Department for Transport), road safety charities (e.g., RoSPA) and training organisations (e.g., The Driving Instructors Association) amongst others. We have presented papers at the Life History Research Society Biennial Meeting (Pittsburgh), and the International Congress of Applied Psychology (Paris). We are continuing gold open-access publication, planning more presentations to practitioners, and developing a project website.
We have secured internal funding (£11,500) to run a project investigating genetic factors in novice driver behaviour, as a direct consequence of this SDAI project.
Sectors Transport

 
Description The aim of the grant was to better understand the elevated crash risk of novice drivers in the first three years after passing the test. Results identified heterogeneity in both aberrant driving behaviour and crash risk for novice drivers. The impact of these findings feed into increasing the effectiveness of public policy and practice regarding novice and young drivers by informing the development of interventions designed to reduce risky behaviour and crash involvement. A one-day seminar at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) enabled the key results, and the policy and practice implications arising from the outcomes, to be presented to an invited audience from the road safety community. Attendees included representatives from central and local government, police, driving associations and charities, road safety organisations and insurance companies. In addition, a series of presentations have been given to organisations targeted due to their vested interested in the latest road safety research. Results have been disseminated at talks to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, the Driving Instructors Association, the Institute of Advanced Motorists, and TRL staff. The research has also been presented by invitation to an exclusive roundtable discussion on raising the standards of UK drivers and improving road safety among novice and young drivers. A select group of leading road safety community members was present at the roundtable discussion, and research findings formed part of an appeal for action to improve road safety for novice and young drivers given the delays in the production of a green paper on the topic. However, Chatham House Rules prevent identification of the speakers and participants in the meeting. We have presented the findings at the TRL Annual Symposium in October 2015 to an invited audience of policy makers and practitioners, on the novice and young driver issue. In September 2017 the primary investigator, Damian Poulter, was appointed as an expert advisor for the Department for Transport (DfT) on a forthcoming large-scale trial, Driver2020, designed to inform practice and policy on the safety and skill of novice drivers on British roads. The research on young and novice drivers conducted on this grant was a key element of the successful application for this position. The placement with the DfT involves providing an in-depth review of the proposed methodologies to be used in the Driver2020 trial, with continued consultancy throughout the project until its planned completion in February 2021.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Transport
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Internal University staff funding
Amount £11,500 (GBP)
Organisation University of Greenwich 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 12/2014
 
Description Medical Research Council (MRC) Public Health Intervention Development scheme (PHIND)
Amount £149,110 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/N011198/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2016 
End 06/2017
 
Title Short version DBQ 
Description We created a short version of the Driver Behaviour Questionnaire, one of the most well used measures of driver behaviour in the literature, based on a bifactor modelling analysis. The aim of the short form DBQ is to provide a efficient way to measure driver behaviour in research and applied setting. The bifactor model is a novel approach to modelling DBQ data, and with allow researchers/practitioners to score both general and specific driving behaviour factors. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The short version DBQ has only just been made available via publication in Accident Analysis & Prevention. The publication is open access, so researchers and practitioners can access it for future work 
URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457514003091
 
Title Linked Cohort II dataset 
Description We have created a linked dataset containing data across all waves of the original study. The existing Cohort II dataset is split into four separate data files, which required considerable time to link the data from one time point to another. The linked, longitudinal file will also be accompanied with a user manual for derived variables, which will make future exploration of data on novice drivers more efficient. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The dataset will be made available to other researchers via the UK data archive http://www.data-archive.ac.uk, where the original unlinked dataset is also available. 
 
Description Transport Research Laboratory 
Organisation Transport Research Laboratory Ltd (TRL)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Our project ran secondary data analysis on the Cohort II dataset, a unique resource that tracked novice driver attitudes and behaviours over the first three years after passing the driving test using a large scale sample. The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) were commissioned by the Department for Transport to run Cohort II. In the current project we ran advanced statistical analysis of data that had not been conducted in the construction of the original Cohort II report. The original Cohort II project explored the elevated crash risk of novice drivers, including identification of safer driving styles and behaviours associated with longer survival times. Our research team took the lead on analysis of the data and academic dissemination of results at international conferences. We identified classes of drivers with different risk profiles over the first three years of driving, and explored the attitudes and behaviours associated with different types of risk.
Collaborator Contribution TRL contributed to analysis; Dr Graham Grayson and Barry Sexton, from TRL, were both central to the original Cohort II study in terms of data analysis and management. They acted as consultants on the current project, providing advice on dataset management, data analysis, implications of research findings, and dissemination of project results to non-academic beneficiaries. TRL also played a key role in dissemination of findings to non-academic audiences. They hosted our 1 day seminar and provided the contacts for the invited audience of central and local government representations, road traffic policing, driver training organisations, and road safety charities.
Impact We held a one-day Novice Driver dissemination event on September 16th, 2014 hosted by TRL. Key findings were presented to non-academic beneficiaries, including the distinction between drivers who have an early risk of a crash after licensure, and those at risk of crash after the first six months of driving, as well as the role of unsafe attitudes to speed, and violations, in increasing probability of membership to one of these classes. The implications of our findings for practice and policy designed to reduce novice and young driver crash involvement was discussed, with Professor Frank McKenna (University of Reading) invited to discuss policy implications that arise from our analysis. In addition, Professor Chris Armitage (University of Manchester) talked about the application of our work to approaching behaviour change amongst young drivers. As a consequence of this event, a series of additional presentations are currently being organised with a number of organisations who were represented at the event, including government agencies (e.g., the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency), driver training organisations (e.g., The Driving Instructors Association, Institute of Advanced Motorists), and road safety organisations (e.g., Roadsafe).
Start Year 2012
 
Description Conference presentation at the International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A presentation was given at the International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics to an international audience of academic researchers and automotive industry researchers. The talk covered research findings from both the Medical Research Council grant MR/N011198/1 titled "Reducing newly-qualified driver crash risk: Identifying behavioural targets", and the Economic and Social Research Council grant ES/K004565/1 titled "Modelling developmental trajectories of novice drivers with high and low crash liability". The talk was part of a seminar on Driver Skill, and generated questions on how to change novice driver behaviour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.ahfe2019.org
 
Description Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact One of a series of planned presentations with organisations with a vested interested in the latest road safety research. The Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency set standards for the driving test and road safety, and the talk was designed to update them on the latest findings of our research on young and novice driver behaviour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Driving Instructors Association Spring Conference 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited to speak at the Driving Instructors Association Spring Conference 2015 - Driving through the Ages. The Driving Instructors Association (DIA) is the largest UK membership organisation for professional driving instructors. It was an opportunity to speak directly to those responsible for the development of novice and young drivers' driving skills about the risky driving behaviour and elevated crash involvement of this subgroup of drivers. After the presentation there was a discussion session with audience members on addressing risk factors for young and novice drivers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/dia-spring-pdd-driving-through-the-ages-tickets-15198585378?aff=es2%3...
 
Description Driving Standards Up: Working together to develop better drivers - A roundtable discussion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact I was invited to present research on our secondary data analysis of novice and young driver behaviour and crash involvement to a roundtable event for a select group of leading road safety community members. The research findings formed part of an appeal for action to improve road safety for novice and young drivers given the delays in the production of a green paper on the topic by the national government. House Rules prevent identification of the speakers and participants in the meeting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Institute of Advanced Motorists 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact One of a series of planned presentations with organisations with a vested interested in the latest road safety research. The Institute of Advanced Motorists is a leading road safety charity, and the talk was designed to update them on the latest findings of our research on young and novice driver behaviour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Invited talk at Young Driver Focus 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Young Driver Focus is an annual event organised by Road Safety GB working in partnership with FirstCar, and is aimed at an audience of public sector road safety professionals (e.g., road safety officers, fire & rescue, police etc.) and private sector road safety organisations/individuals. Held at the Royal Automobile Club, the event focuses on the issue of reducing crash involvement among novice and young drivers, with an audience of approximately 150 people from the road safety community. The PI and Co-! were invited to give a joint presentation that covered results from the original grant (ES/K004565/1), as well as results from a subsequent Medical Research Council grant (MR/N011198/1). The aim of the presentation was to disseminate research findings to the wider road safety community, including members of central and local government, emergency services, road safety organisations and charities, driving instructor associations and insurance companies. Speakers included Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution, Nicholas Worrell, Director, Office of Safety Advocacy, National Transportation Safety Board, USA, Lesley Young, Head of Policy and Chief Driving Examiner, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), as well as academics and practitioners with special interest in young driver road safety. The presentation is publicly available via the event website (http://youngdriverfocus.org.uk/youngdriverfocus/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Rowe-PoulterYDF18.pptx), as well as being disseminated by the Road Safety Knowledge Centre (http://www.roadsafetyknowledgecentre.org.uk/knowledge/1806.html). Informal discussion with public sector organisation representative and other researchers took place after the presentations, with the potential for future collaboration on key factors around the issue of novice and young driver crash risk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://youngdriverfocus.org.uk
 
Description Novice and Young Driver Seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We organised a one-day seminar at the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to disseminate the key results of our grant, and address the policy and practice implications arising from the outcomes. The seminar was for an invited audience from the road safety community. Attendees included representatives from central and local government, police, driving associations and charities, road safety organisations and insurance companies. There were also presentations from two leading academics on the implications arising from the research findings. Professor Frank McKenna, Emeritus Professor at the University of Reading, spoke on the implications of our research for young and novice driver policy, and Professor Chris Armitage spoke on the implications of our research for behaviour change in young and novice drivers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Research circulated to road safety community 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Road Safety Knowledge Centre picked up one of our research papers published on analysis from our grant. The RSKC "has been developed by Road Safety GB with funding provided by the Department for Transport. It was launched in 2010 as the successor to the Road Safety Time Bank.See more at: http://www.roadsafetyknowledgecentre.org.uk/pages/about.html#sthash.IlDWgNuS.dpuf".

The RSKC in an online library of information and expertise on road safety-related topics. It is open to all, and the article linked directly to our open access paper (at http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/87944/). The RSKC webpage also provided a 'key findings' and 'summary' précis of our research findings
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.roadsafetyknowledgecentre.org.uk/knowledge/1636.html
 
Description Transport Research Laboratory Annual Symposium 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact I was invited as a speaker to the Transport Research Laboratory Annual Symposium 2015 at the Royal Society of Medicine, London, to present our work on novice driving behaviour and crash liability over time to members of the road safety community. he audience included representatives from central and local government, police, driving associations and charities, road safety organisations and insurance companies, as well as members of the media.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.trl.co.uk/news-hub/trl-blog/2015/october/young-driver-safety/
 
Description Transport Research Laboratory lunchtime seminar series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I was invited as speaker to the inaugural Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) lunchtime seminar series to present on our secondary data analysis of novice and young driver behaviour and crash involvement to staff at the Transport Research Laboratory. The presentation included development of analysis and understanding using data from the Cohort II project, originally managed by TRL.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description University of Leeds invited seminar 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Approximtely 20 academics attended an invited presentation at the University of Leeds Psychology Department external seminar series. The audience provided feedback on the results including potential for further work
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017