Introduction: Young novice drivers remain at greater risk of injury and death despite a wealth of interventions including graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs. The key to implementing safer practices inherent in GDL appears to lie with optimising the role of parents. This qualitative research explored the parent’s perspectives of obstacles to engaging in the driver licensing process within a GDL program. Parents also shared advice on what they found helpful, and where relevant, recommended changes in the process to enable safer practices for young drivers. Method: Twenty-three parents (aged 35–60 years, M = 49.52, SD = 8.01, 11 males) participated in semi-structured interviews regarding licensing experiences with their young driver children. The young drivers included learner (n = 11), provisional (restricted/intermediate) (n = 9) and open (unrestricted/full) licence drivers (n = 3), ranging from 16 to 24 years (M = 18.04, SD = 2.21, 13 males). Findings and conclusions: Content analysis revealed that most obstacles were encountered at the learner licensing phase, with the parent-reported difficult temperament of the learner driver the most prominent. Unsurprisingly, advice to other parents to be patient and remain calm featured heavily during the same phase. Anxiety from not having control of the vehicle was another obstacle at the learner phase, translating to anxieties for child safety in the early stages of provisional driving. Recommendations for the current GDL included more rigorous road rule testing, with general support for the program, professional driver training at learner and provisional stages facilitated parental engagement through the licensing phases. Practical applications: The findings overwhelmingly suggest a need for parents to be educated regarding their importance in, and of, the driver licensing process, and the efficacy of their instruction, content and practices.
Accident Analysis and Prevention / Vol. 99, No. Part A, pp.312-320