Parents - driving role models
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Video transcript

We open tight on the face of an innocent looking child. We slowly pull out and see that he's sitting in a single car seat on a stage.

He is driving an imaginary car, waving as he is let in by an imaginary driver.

We see the boy looking over his shoulder as if to check for traffic. His arms are being supported by strings.

We pull out a little wider and the boy appears to reach for an imaginary cell phone to read a text message. Suddenly he looks up from the phone and corrects his steering. He shouts and gesticulates angrily towards an imaginary driver.

We continue pulling away from the child until we see that the strings are attached to his father in the driver's seat.

We see the father perform a mirror check, before pulling out his mobile phone to talk as he continues to drive. Each action from the father is mirrored by the boy.

We end on the words:


What kind of driver are you raising?

Make every drive a good example.

End of the transcript
YouTube Version Audio description file

Parents - driving role models

Children learn more from your behaviour that you may realise. How you drive can have a huge influence on your children, from an early age, and the type of drivers they will be in the future. Using this research, we have created an ad to show this as we work towards the long-term goal of no lives lost or serious injuries to the next generation of drivers.

In their first year of driving, young drivers in Victoria are almost four times more likely to be involved in a fatal or serious injury crash than more experienced drivers.

This means 18-25 year old drivers remain over-represented in road trauma, despite the dramatic fall in lives lost on our roads since 1989. In 2016, 19% of drivers who lost their lives on our roads were in this age bracket; however this group represents only around 10% of Victorian licence holders.

In a recent review of young drivers by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATBS),  it was found they were at greater risk on the roads for a range of reasons including:

  • lack of experience
  • limited ability and judgement
  • underestimation of risks
  • deliberate risk-taking behaviours and
  • use of alcohol and drugs.

Graduated Licencing System (GLS)

In Victoria, the Graduated Licensing System (GLS) introduces young people to driving through progressive stages starting with learner then onto a P1 and P2 probationary driver and then a fully licensed driver. Find out more about the Victorian Graduated Licensing System (GLS)

Towards Zero

The TAC is aiming for a future where there are no lives lost or serious injuries on our roads. Find out more about Towards Zero here. 


There is now considerable evidence that parents play an important role in preventing problem behaviour developing in their children by being positive role models.

Social Learning Theory* shows that humans learn many of their behaviours by observing other humans. The theory shows that certain types of models and outcomes are more influential than others.

For example, people are more likely to imitate behaviour if the role model:

  • has a positive, or desired outcome, from their behaviour,
  • is liked or respected by the observer,
  • is considered attractive or powerful by the observer, and,
  • if the observer sees similarities between themselves and the model.

Research also supports social learning theory where a parent who takes risks transfers this behaviour onto their children**. Similar findings have also been found with relation to driving styles.

It was also found* that gender played a role in the role modelling of driving styles. These findings support other studies that have found that men's driving styles are influenced most by fathers and women are influenced by both parents.

Research References:

*   Miller, G. & Taubman – Ben-Ari, O., 2010. Driving styles among young novice drivers – The contribution of parental driving styles and personal characteristics. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 42, 558 – 570.

** White, H.R., Johnson, V., & Buyske, S. (2000). Parental modelling and parenting behaviour effects on offspring alcohol and cigarette use – a growth curve analysis. Journal of Substance Abuse, 12, 287-310.


More than 300 young drivers aged 18 – 25 have lost their lives in Victoria in the last 10 years – representing just less than one in four or 23% of drivers lives lost in Victoria in this period.

In 2018, 14% of drivers who lost their lives were aged between 18 and 25 years, with this age group only representing around 10% of Victorian licence holders.

Young Drivers lives lost (1987 – 2018)

Of the 14 young drivers who lost their lives on our roads in 2018:

  • 79% were male
  • 39% were killed in regional Victoria (73% of these were killed on 100+km/hr roads)
  • 50% were killed in single vehicle crashes
  • 75% were involved in crashes that occurred in high alcohol times


Have a look behind the scenes at how the Strings video was filmed.
YouTube Version Show video transcript

WOMAN: Kids can pick up all
sorts of behaviours in the car -

good ones and bad.

So today the bad behaviours
that we're looking at

are sort of mobile phone use
and road rage.

Parents are forgetting
to be parents

when they jump behind the wheel.

They sort of...they become drivers
rather than parents.

MAN: Doing something that's
so heavily performance-based

is always a challenge
'cause you're...

Especially using, you know,
a child actor,

which we were lucky to find
such a great little actor.

We went through a lot of casting
before we found Zane,

and it's tough with a kid that age,

even just to get him
to act serious.

LUKE: We're looking at
a kid strapped into a car

and seeing all the sorts
of things, good and bad behaviours,

that their parents are doing.

The tone was sort of different
to what they've done in the past.

It was more about making sure
parents don't tune out.

There is a certain tipping point
where I think a parent can go,

"Oh, that's not me,"
or "I would never do that,"

or "I can't relate
to that person in the car,"

so, yeah, we had to make it
so that it's impactful

but not to the point where you go,

"Oh, that's a ridiculous situation
and I would never act like that."


Research shows that children begin absorbing their parents' driving behaviour from a very early age. This means children begin learning how to drive long before they get their learner's permit. Positive role modelling by parents can have a huge influence on how children drive in the future and instilling safe practices and attitudes from a young age is a key factor in achieving our long-term goal of no serious injuries or lives lost on our roads. 

We recently asked a group of young children to draw a picture of a time an adult was driving and how this made them feel. The results give every parent or carer food for thought about how their driving is seen by their young passengers and a reminder to make every drive a good example.