Eliciting the beliefs of young drivers about driving risks: An analysis of two methodologies

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


NSW Government


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science




Ferguson, C. A., Cohen, L. , Pooley, J. , & Guilfoyle, A. (2009). Elicitiing the beliefs of young drivers about driving risks: An analysis of two methodologies. Proceedings of 2009 Australasian Road Safety Research, Policing and Education Conference. (pp. 826-838). Sydney. NSW Government. Available here


The Theory of Planned Behaviour proposes that intention is the closest predictor of behaviour, with attitude, subjective norms, and perceived behavioural control predicting intention.and beliefs underpinning the latter. It is these beliefs that facilitate behaviour change. This paper presents research that elicited the beliefs of young drivers using two methodologies. First, twelve young drivers, students at a college providing vocational education in the South West of Western Australia were interviewed. Participants were male (6) and female (6) aged between 18 and 20 years. Second, 69 students participated in a written questionnaire about specific driving behaviours. The group was of mixed gender and aged between 18 and 21 years. Interviews were conducted using open questioning to determine young drivers' beliefs about the risks of driving. In the second methodology, an open written questionnaire was used to specifically determine young driver beliefs' across four behaviours, drink driving (20), driving tired (20), exceeding the speed limit (20), and restraint use (9). Both methodologies revealed that young drivers have few beliefs about risky driving and the specific risks pertaining to certain behaviours. The interview data suggests that young drivers are more focused on the practical aspects of driving rather than the risks detailed in road safety advertising. The specific behavioural data indicated that a low number of beliefs were held, compared with other research eliciting beliefs for different types of other behaviours. This research provides opportunities for initiating behaviour change and details application of different research methodologies.