What do driver educators and young drivers think about driving simulators? A qualitative draw-and-talk study

Evaluation research suggests that professional driver education and training has little effect on reducing the crash involvements of young drivers. Driver education and training programs have been criticised as being unsystematically designed and lacking an empirical or theoretical basis. The Goals for Driver Education (GDE) is a theoretical framework developed to address these criticisms. The GDE defines four hierarchical levels of driving behaviours and influences on driving and three individualised Person-specific factors that should be considered in driver education and training programs. The aim of this study was to compare and contrast, in a methodologically rigorous manner, the perceptions that young drivers (n = 22; Mage = 17.80 years, SD = 6.54 months) and driver educators (n = 10; Mage = 54.5 years, SD = 9.21 years) have of a professional driver education and training course they participated in or facilitated. Eight semi-structured focus groups were conducted and the GDE was used to direct the collection and analysis of the data. Young drivers mainly discussed basic driving skills located on the lower levels of the GDE rather than higher level abstract factors that increase risk for young drivers. Driver educators tended to group particular GDE levels and Person-specific factors together when discussing the driving course and paid limited attention to Goals and contexts of driving. Results suggest that driver educators should provide direct instruction regarding the more abstract social and contextual factors that influence driving to potentially increase the efficacy of driver education and training as a safety countermeasure.