Objectives: We explored the risky driving behaviors and risk perceptions of a cohort of young novice drivers and sought to determine their associations with crash risk.
Methods: Provisional drivers aged 17 to 24 (n = 20 822) completed a detailed questionnaire that included measures of risk perception and behaviors; 2 years following recruitment, survey data were linked to licensing and police-reported crash data. Poisson regression models that adjusted for multiple confounders were created to explore crash risk.
Results: High scores on questionnaire items for risky driving were associated with a 50% increased crash risk (adjusted relative risk = 1.51; 95% confidence interval = 1.25, 1.81). High scores for risk perception (poorer perceptions of safety) were also associated with increased crash risk in univariate and multivariate models; however, significance was not sustained after adjustment for risky driving.
Conclusions: The overrepresentation of youths in crashes involving casualties is a significant public health issue. Risky driving behavior is strongly linked to crash risk among young drivers and overrides the importance of risk perceptions. Systemwide intervention, including licensing reform, is warranted.