Outcome evaluation of the p drivers Program: randomised controlled trial of a program to improve safe driving among novice drivers

K. Stephan, A. N. Stephens, M. Scully, E. Mitsopoulos-Rubens, S. V. Newstead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background: Globally, road traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young adults. The P Drivers Project was a trial of a behavioural change program developed for, and targeted at, young Australian drivers in their initial months of solo driving when crash risk is at its highest. Methods: In a parallel group randomised controlled trial, drivers (N = 35,109) were recruited within 100 days of obtaining their probationary licence (allowing them to drive unaccompanied) and randomised to an intervention or control group. The intervention was a 3 to 6-week multi-stage driving behaviour change program (P Drivers Program). Surveys were administered at three time points (pre-Program, approximately one month post-Program and at 12 months after). The outcome evaluation employed an on-treatment analysis comprising the 2,419 intervention and 2,810 control participants who completed all required activities, comparing self-reported crashes and police-reported casualty crashes (primary outcome), infringements, self-reported attitudes and behaviours (secondary outcomes) between groups. Results: The P Drivers Program improved awareness of crash risk factors and intentions to drive more safely, relative to the controls; effects were maintained after 12-months. However, the Program did not reduce self-reported crashes or police-reported casualty crashes. In addition, self-reported violations, errors and risky driving behaviours increased in the intervention group compared to the control group as did recorded traffic infringements. This suggests that despite the Program increasing awareness of risky behaviour in novice drivers, behaviour did not improve. This reinforces the need to collect objective measures to accompany self-reported behaviour and intentions. Conclusions: The P Drivers Program was successful in improving attitudes toward driving safety but the negative impact on behaviour, lack of effect on crashes, and the large loss to follow-up fail to support the use of a post-licensing behaviour change program to improve novice driver behaviour and reduce crashes. Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry: 363,293 (ANZCTR, 2012).

Original languageEnglish
Article number107569
Number of pages13
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • Behaviour change program
  • Crash risk
  • Evaluation, randomised controlled trial
  • Novice drivers

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