The effect of psychosocial factors on perceptions of driver education using the goals for driver education framework

Professional driver education and training has often been found in evaluations to not provide additional safety benefits for young drivers. However, it is possible that identifying how psychosocial factors affect perceptions of driver education may contribute to improve program design, content and implementation. The Goals for Driver Education (GDE) framework was used in this research to explore the impact of various psychosocial factors, such as sensation seeking, normlessness, attitudes towards driver risk taking and positive attitudes towards speeding on the perceptions of young drivers participating in a professional driver education courses. One hundred and fourteen young drivers (Mage = 17.89, SD = 0.85) who had attended a driver education course within the past three years completed an online survey that collected socio-demographic information, perceptions of the benefits of education for individuals learning to drive at each level of the GDE framework, and information about psychosocial factors. Overall, the results suggested that psychosocial factors do affect young driver perceptions of driver education and training. Higher levels of sensation seeking predicted that participants thought it beneficial for novice driver education to focus on vehicle manoeuvring (Level 1), mastery of traffic situations (Level 2) and goals and contexts for driving (Level 3) but not the highest level of the GDE matrix, goals for life. Higher levels of normlessness predicted participants believing it was more beneficial for new drivers to learn about the goals and contexts for driving. This suggests there is a need for driver educators to consider personalising their programs as much as possible to take into account the psychosocial differences between individuals, which may impact on the way they respond to the education they receive.