Triggs, T. J., Monash University, Australia
The significant over-involvement of young or novice drivers in accidents is a well-established international problem that has proven to be relatively intractable. For example, traditional driver training programs are frequently judged to be ineffective in reducing the risk of crashes in the first few years of driving. This paper examines a range of general factors that are likely to contribute to this over-involvement. In particular, factors such as age-related effects relating to risk-taking ("adolescence"), the relative lack of experience, the different patterns of exposure to risk, the role of young "problem drivers" and the question of information-processing in developmental terms will be discussed. Research findings will be presented concerning this issue of information-processing maturity. Young persons of driving age may show equivalent performance to their older counterparts in simple tasks relating to driving. In contrast, data will be provided that show for combined tasks where attention needs to be shared between multiple sources of information, overall performance continues to improve during the late adolescent/early adult years. This suggests that for more complex tasks, the ability to perform continues to develop during the age range usually associated with early solo driving. Data will also be reported on whether young drivers can be effectively supported by the provision of decision aids.