The characteristics of young pre-licensed drivers: evidence from the New Zealand Drivers Study

Accid Anal Prev. 2012 Mar;45:539-46. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2011.09.006. Epub 2011 Oct 1.


Aim: The aim of this study was to identify demographic and behavioural factors associated with pre-licensed driving.

Method: A cohort comprising 3526 newly licensed drivers aged 15-24 years old from throughout New Zealand completed a questionnaire which sought information on pre-licensed driving behaviour and factors thought to be related to this.

Results: Almost half of the participants had driven on-road prior to passing their learner license theory test; 14% had driven more than 20 times; and 7.5% had driven more than 200 km. Multivariate logistic regression showed the results differed depending on the outcome examined. In general pre-licensed driving was significantly higher among males, among Māori, those living in a rural area, and those living in an area of high deprivation. Furthermore, those who drove pre-licensed were more likely to engage in other risky behaviours such as hazardous drinking and cannabis use, and have medium to high scores for sensation seeking and aggression/hostility.

Conclusion: The young people who were pre-licensed drivers displayed a range of demographic and behavioural characteristics that indicate they may be at higher crash risk than their peers who did not drive before licensing. Identifying those who drive before licensing and targeting road safety interventions towards this group may help reduce the high crash risk among novice drivers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Automobile Driver Examination / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Automobile Driving / education
  • Automobile Driving / psychology*
  • Automobile Driving / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Criminal Psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Male
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • New Zealand
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Rural Population
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult