Developing and evaluating a theoretically grounded novice driver education program incorporating simulators

This project developed a research informed, theory-driven education intervention that included a simulation component to improve their driving skills and attitudes. A process and outcome evaluation assessed the effectiveness of the training including the impact on how individuals learn to drive, changes in skill and attitudes. A second, parallel study adapted the intervention for indigenous Australians and examined the effectiveness of this adaptation. One common type of simulation training, online commentary driving was a particular focus.

The studies included both qualitative and quantitative designs and utilised samples including young drivers, professional driver educators and parents. Overall, young people, parents and driver educators were open to the inclusion of simulation within driver education and training, although there was a strong perception particularly from young drivers and driver educators that simulator training could not replace in vivo training conducted in a real vehicle. ‘Real-life’ experience should be prioritised when training young people to drive.

The focus of the research was to ascertain whether a brief video-based commentary drive intervention could affect the hazard perception ability of young drivers if they completed it without supervision, online, in their own homes. Young drivers and pre-drivers were asked to watch videos of traffic scenes and generating a running commentary of the hazards they saw, after which they listened to a commentary of the same scene provided by an expert driver. The commentary drive intervention was found to significantly improve response times in a hazard perception test that used stimuli from the official Queensland Government test, which is known to predict crash involvement. This suggests that even in a situation where participants could choose how much they engaged with the intervention, it was nonetheless effective. Given that the commentary drive intervention can be deployed online, these results indicate that it could be a practical and effective opportunity to improve road safety in a geographically dispersed state such as Queensland, at scale and with virtually zero cost to consumers or providers.


Funding / Grants

  • ARC Linkage Grant (2014 - 2018)

Other Team Members

This project was not CARRS-Q led.