OBJECTIVE The aim of this study was to determine whether pre-licence driving experiences, that is driving before beginning the licensing process, increased or decreased crash risk as a car driver, during the learner or the restricted licence stages of the graduated driver licensing system (GDLS). METHOD Study participants were 15-24 year old members of the New Zealand Drivers Study (NZDS) - a prospective cohort study of newly licensed car drivers. The interview stages of the NZDS are linked to, the three licensing stages of the GDLS: learner, restricted and full. Baseline demographic (age, ethnicity, residential location, deprivation), personality (impulsivity, sensation seeking, aggression) and, behavioural data, (including pre-licensed driving behaviour), were obtained at the learner licence interview. Data on distance driven and crashes that occurred at the learner licence and restricted licence stages, were reported at the restricted and full licence interviews, respectively. Crash data were also obtained from police traffic crash report files and this was combined with the self-reported crash data. The analysis of the learner licence stage crashes, when only supervised driving is allowed, was based on the participants who had passed the restricted licence test and undertaken the NZDS, restricted licence interview (n=2358). The analysis of the restricted licence stage crashes, when unsupervised driving is first allowed, was based on those who had passed the full licence test and completed the full licence interview (n=1428). RESULTS After controlling for a range of demographic, personality, behavioural variables and distance driven, Poisson regression showed that the only pre-licence driving behaviour that showed a consistent relationship with subsequent crashes was on-road car driving which was associated with an increased risk of being the driver in a car crash during the learner licence period. CONCLUSION This research showed that pre-licensed driving did not reduce crash risk among learner or restricted licensed drivers, and in some cases (such as on-road car driving) may have increased risk. Young people should be discouraged from the illegal behaviour of driving a car on-road before licensing.