The background to the Safer Drivers Course

Written by Geoff Watt

With statistics showing that young drivers, aged 17-25 years, are more likely to be involved in crashes resulting in death or injury than other drivers, the NSW licensing system is reviewed regularly to improve young driver safety.

The NSW Government announced the establishment of a Board of independent road safety experts (‘Board’) to develop a new course for learner drivers that aims to improve the safety of young novice drivers. Learner drivers who complete the Safer Drivers Course will have a reduction in the required number of logged driving hours from 120 to 100 hours.

Given research suggests that the more supervised driving practice a learner achieves the greater the likely road safety outcomes, this curriculum framework has been designed to complement and not replace on-road driving practice for learner drivers.

The key aims, objectives and outcomes of the Safer Drivers Course are as follows:

 

Course Aim

The Safer Drivers Course is designed to contribute to improved road safety outcomes for young learner drivers (below age 25).

 

Course Objectives

Given the elevated crash risk of inexperienced young drivers, the focus of the Safer Driver Course is to prepare learner drivers for when they first drive solo as a provisional licence holder.

The course objectives are set to assist young learners to:

  • improve their capabilities to drive safely by reducing and managing their road safety risks
  • acquire additional safe driving skills, knowledge and insights into their driving vulnerabilities to complement their on-road driving experience within the context of the log book driving requirement. (Driving vulnerabilities include issues relating to choice, attitudes, risk taking and decision making.)

 

More specifically, the course is designed to:

  • assist learner drivers understand the heightened risk once they cease to be a supervised learner driver and drive independently and, they can reduce this risk by adopting specific positive strategies
  • acquaint learner drivers with the typical crash scenarios that young solo drivers experience and to make links with common young driver behaviour
  • provide learner drivers with specific “safe” driving strategies which can complement their on-road driving experience undertaken through supervised driving
  • highlight to learner drivers that their safety and vulnerability as independent drivers is in their hands and will depend on: the choices and decisions they make, their attitudes and risk taking actions
  • assist learner drivers to become more resilient to pressures which heighten their risk of negative road safety outcomes (such as peer and social influences, distraction, driving at dangerous times, pressure from passengers)
  • encourage learner drivers to practise the safe driving strategies recommended in the Course and to ensure the consistency of messages between the course and supervising drivers.

 

Course Outcomes

At the end of the course, the young learner drivers are expected to have improved capabilities in the areas of driving decision making, identifying risks, hazard perception and having a more realistic view of one’s own ability to drive safely (ie low risk and without crashes).

 

Specifically,

  • Learner drivers come to an understanding of their vulnerabilities and a more realistic assessment of their ability to drive safely (i.e. low risk and without crashes)
  • Learner drivers value, adopt and practise safe driving strategies as learner drivers and eventually as solo drivers.

 

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