The characteristics of young pre-licensed drivers: evidence from the New Zealand Drivers Study.
AIM The study aims to clarify the most typical circumstances in which car crashes involving young drivers and leading to the occurrence of injuries and to consider the various licensing statuses of the drivers in such crashes. METHOD Young Swedish drivers born between 1984 and 1986 were followed up in the Police register (2003-2004) for their involvement in car crashes as drivers (n=2448). A set of five variables (25 categories) descriptive of those crashes was analyzed simultaneously by means of cluster analysis. Associations between crash clusters and licensing status (including none), licensing duration and alcohol involvement were also measured. RESULTS Five clusters were identified, typical of one or some specific crash type(s): single-vehicle in sparsely populated areas, front-on collisions, crashes at dawn or at dusk, turning, cars of later model, crashes in urban areas and speed limits below 50 km/h. Clusters differ in consequences and in the proportions of alcohol impaired drivers involved but not regarding proportions of novice drivers. Unlicensed drivers were found in excess in some clusters (especially single and night time crashes). CONCLUSION Young drivers are involved in crashes leading to injuries in rather specific circumstances. For some of them, novice drivers or even unlicensed drivers are over-represented, which points to the need for targeted counter-measures, alongside those general ones already in place.