Whats on Your Mind - 2010

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Whats on Your Mind - 2010

 by Chris Busuttil

A young man is checking his social network site, seemingly nothing is wrong, it is just another day for him. As he starts to reflect on the events that occurred over the weekend, his memory is jolted by flicking through photos and chatting online to his friends. He comes to realise that the night may not have had the happy ending that he first assumed.  

Road crashes are the biggest killer of young people aged 16 to 25. In their first year of driving, young people are about three times more likely to be killed or injured than older, more experienced drivers. Young drivers are more at risk because they lack driving experience and take risks on the roads.  The tendency to take risks is part of being a young person, but for too many young people this results in death or serious injury on the roads.

Risk Taking Facts

  • When carrying two or more passengers a young driver’s risk of being involved in a fatal crash is over five times higher than travelling alone.
  • Young passengers are most likely to be killed in a car when travelling with young drivers.
  • For young male drivers, the riskiest combination is travelling with young male passengers, compared to all other combinations.

What young people think about risk taking

When asked, young Victorians have given valuable insights into how they think about risk taking. Research has shown:

  • Passengers are central to risky driving, especially for young men.
    • Young male passengers rarely discourage their male peers from engaging in risky driving behaviours and often actively encourage it.
    • As a driver, many young males say they drive in a risky way to show off to young male passengers, even if the passengers haven’t asked them to.
    • Young male drivers are less likely to engage in risky actions with female passengers because they want to protect them, don’t feel as much need to impress them, female passengers are more willing to speak out and because they listen to their girlfriends.
  • Common reasons young people give for risk taking:
    • Peer group pressure
    • Impressing friends and wanting to be accepted
    • Going along with the crowd and not wanting to be left out.
    • Sense of invincibility
    • Don’t feel they can say no or speak up when they are in a risky situation.
  • How young people rationalise their risky behaviour:
    • “If all your friends are doing something you’re safer sticking together even if it is in a car… you’d be in more danger if you stayed behind on your own … or caught a train at night on your own rather than getting in the car”
  • Young people:
    • Talk down the possible outcomes
    • Avoid thinking about possible consequences
    • Blame their risky behaviour on outside factors and are overconfident about their driving skills.
    • Recognise they have a choice when faced with a risky situation but they claim the alternative is often neither practical nor a solution.
  • Cars play an important symbolic function, particularly for young men.
    • P plates symbolise freedom and ‘adulthood’.
    • The car you drive and how you drive it reflects who you are.
    • The car becomes a place for socialising with friends.
    • Risky driving is glamourised by Hollywood, motor racing sports, video games and car advertisements.


More than 350 young drivers aged 18 – 25 have been killed in Victoria in the last 10 years – representing one in four or 25% of drivers killed in Victoria in this period.

In 2015, 22% of drivers killed were aged between 18 and 25 years, with this age group only representing around 13% of Victorian licence holders.young lives lost to 2015 graph

Of the 27 young drivers killed in 2015:

  • 78% were males
  • 63% were killed on country roads
  • 56% were killed in single vehicle crashes
  • 67% were killed in crashes that occurred during high alcohol times
  • 67% of deaths occurred on 100km/h signposted roads

Note: High alcohol times are those times of the day and week when casualty crashes are ten times more likely to involve alcohol than casualty crashes at other times.


For more information on MAFMAD visit the MAFMAD website