As more of our nation’s winding highways of yesteryear become seemingly endless dual carriageways with strict speed limits sometimes lower than on the roads they replaced, instances of driver distraction have become a prominent road safety concern.
Combine that with Australia’s stubborn insistence for automatic transmissions, and teenagers are finding that the freedom of the road isn’t as exciting as they thought it would be.
QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland (CARRS-Q) has found that young males are prone to creating their own entertainment when they find themselves bored behind the wheel.
This leads to risky behaviour, such as high-range speeding, reckless overtaking and mobile-phone use, so QUT is investigating ways to liven up the driving experience - without the risks.
Dr Ronald Schroeter said the university is looking to gadgets and games behind the wheel to keep young drivers entertained, but added ‘I-Spy’ was not on the agenda.
"Rather than demonising technologies like smartphones, Google Glass or head-up displays like those used by jet pilots to allow transparent images to be displayed on the windscreen of planes, my research is using these devices to provide fun and engaging stimulation that replaces the urge for risky driving behaviours," Dr Schroeter said.
"For example, imagine an angry birds-type scenario where you have birds on your windscreen hitting or missing a bulls-eye dependent on your driving performance when braking at a red traffic light. This basically turns every red light into a playful driving game."
Dr Schroeter said young males were over-represented in road crashes with young drivers making up a quarter of all Australian road deaths, but accounting for only 10-15 percent of the licensed driver population.
An urge to take risks while seeking excitement was behind the overrepresentation, Dr Schroeter said, adding that redirecting that urge would be more effective than trying to alter the mindset of young drivers.
"Rather than trying to change their personality, which is extremely difficult to change, I am accepting they are likely to always be easily bored and come up with strategies to keep them engaged about the actual driving,” Dr Schroeter said.
QUT is looking for males aged 18-25 from Brisbane to take part in the study, along with ideas from the public for fun driving games. Click here (website opens in new window) to learn more.
MORE: Criminal History Common Among Repeat High-range Speeders - QUT
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