Mike Stevens | Apr 15, 2010

A NEW REPORT by the Federal Government's Australian Institute of Family Studies, in association with Victoria's RACV and TAC, has found that an alarming number of drivers in their mid-twenties are regularly involved in reckless driving.

Titled In the Drivers Seat II - Beyond The Early Driving Years, the study polled 1000 young drivers in two waves, four years apart - once when the participants were aged 19 to 20, and again at 23 to 24.

The results of the study showed that 60 percent of the 23-24 year olds had been involved in crash since gaining their licence. More than 80 percent of respondents admitted that they had exceeded the speed limit recently.

Despite increased campaigns against mobile phone use while driving, 55 percent of respondents said they had recently used a mobile phone while driving. Around two-thirds of participants admitted they had driven while very tired.

One in five respondents had driven while near or over the legal blood alcohol limit in the month before the survey.

The study found that young men were more likely to have been arrested for a driving offence than young women, while young women were more likely to drive when tired. Overall, male respondents in the study were found to be more prone to dangerous driving and risky decisions than females.

Differences in educational levels appear to be a factor, with university graduates less likely to have had their licence cancelled or suspended, or to have been caught speeding, than those with either a secondary level education or another type of tertiary education.

In the time between the first wave of the study and the second, the number of participants recently caught speeding had decreased, while the number of drink-driving offences had increased.

“Early adulthood can be a period of considerable risk-taking when the prevalence of substance abuse reaches a lifetime high, yet relatively little is known about drivers in their mid-twenties. We wanted to find out if people who engage in drink driving are more likely to engage in other types of risky driving and this was found to be true,” Institute Director Professor Alan Hayes said.

“Speeding, driving without a seatbelt, driving while fatigued, and driving under the influence of an illegal drug or while on a mobile were all considerably more common among young drink drivers than among other young drivers,” Professor Hayes said.

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