Associations between graduated driver licensing and road trauma reductions in a later licensing age jurisdiction: Queensland, Australia

Abstract

The success of driver graduated licensing systems (GLS) is demonstrated primarily in jurisdictions that licence at young ages with requirements expiring at age 18. In Australia, GLS requirements typically apply for all applicants aged under 25. In 2007, the Queensland licensing system was strengthened, extending the learner and introducing a 100-hour supervised driving requirement, introducing restrictions on passenger carriage at night and high-powered vehicles for provisional drivers, and on phone use for all novice drivers (learner and provisional). The objective of the current research was to evaluate whether these changes were associated with reductions in crashes (all) and killed-and-serious-injury (KSI) crashes involving novice drivers, and respective casualties. Government licensing and police crash records were linked and interrupted time series analysis was used to examine potential shifts in crash trends by rates of licensed drivers per month. Substantial declines were found in novice driver crashes (13.1% per year; 95%CI -0.0130, -0.0096), crash casualties (13.9% per year; 95%CI -0.0137, -0.0101), KSI crashes (5.4% per year; 95%CI -0.0080, -0.0046) and associated casualties (5.2% per year; 95%CI -0.0075, -0.0039). Compared to the total licensed driver population, declines in crashes (3.0% per year; 95%CI -0.0027, -0.0007) and crash casualties (2.9% per year; 95%CI -0.0029, -0.0006) but not KSI outcomes were observed. More narrowly, declines were found for provisional- licensed driver crashes (9.3% per year; 95%CI -0.0096, -0.0063) and KSI crashes (3.6% per year; 95%CI -0.0004, -0.0128) that were approximately 2.6% and 1.2% greater than respective declines for 25-29-year-old open-licensed drivers. Substantial declines also were observed in novice driver single-vehicle, night, passenger and alcohol crashes. Overall, these results demonstrate that GLS can be effective in a later age licensing jurisdiction. However, KSI outcomes were limited. Modelling research is recommended on ways to further strengthen Queensland’s GLS to achieve greater trauma reductions. © 2018 Senserrick et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Publication
PLoS ONE