Young drivers dodge cops with social media, radio and texts
A QUARTER of young male drivers in Queensland are using social media, radio reports and texts from family and friends to deliberately avoid police and the punishments they would dish out.
University researcher Dr Bridie Scott-Parker said young men were most at risk on the roads and she feared this avoidance was about hiding the risky behaviours they were undertaking.
Three quarters of the young driver road toll Australia wide is male. In Queensland in the past year, 23% of the fatalities were young people aged 17-24 years even though this age group makes up about 12% of the population.
And Ms Scott-Parker said parents were not helping the situation - with some mums and dads reportedly copping speeding fines and points losses so their learner and probationary drivers do not lose their licences.
"Mum and dad think they're helping out but the lesson young people are taking on is that speeding is okay," she said.
Ms Scott-Parker said nine learners at a small group interview at Morayfield revealed their parents had done this and she feared it was a widespread practice.
She said the figures relating to young male drivers avoiding police came from a survey through the Transport Department of 1268 novice drivers.
About 90% make it their business to know where police were through whatever means available to them.
Ms Scott-Parker said boys were engaging in this behaviour twice as much as the girls, with only 12% of females deliberately avoiding police.
She said young men had high sensation seeking propensity but that "super risky" behaviour was not safe when mixed with other road users or passengers.
Whether it is drink-driving, drug-driving, speeding, too many passengers or some other risky driving behaviour that made them dodge cops, Ms Scott-Parker said she wanted to know more about "punishment avoidance" which was emerging as a new phenomenon in her research.
Ms Scott-Parker, who is with the University of the Sunshine Coast Accident Research, said the phenomenon also rose while she was talking to young drivers in the Caboolture area during her PhD.
She said they had various interactions with police, from a warning to a ticket to doing u-turns to avoid police when they saw them on the road ahead.
"Some people experience a strong positive effect and are extra cautious while driving and when they saw police in the future," she said.
"Unfortunately for young men, they had a risky response and increased the riskiness of their behaviour when they saw police.
"That sounds like they're doing something risky (before they see police) so I'd like to find out more about what's going on there.
"I'd like to talk about young men in particular and talk about reactions they've had and figure it out."
Ms Scott-Parker said she would research punishment avoidance further during forums on the Sunshine Coast this weekend.
"I think I've only just begun to scrape the surface of the phenomenon," she said.
"This sort of research will be used to increase the safety on the road.
"Police need to be aware of their interactions with young people and the effect they are having.
"The more effective the interactions with police, the safer the roads will be for all users."
- 25% of young male drivers deliberately avoid police compared to 12% of young female drivers.
- 32% of novice drivers who should have no alcohol in their blood, but had a drink, tried to avoid police.
- 35% of novice drivers who had illicit drugs in their system deliberately avoided police.
- More than 90% of young driver are paying attention to where police are.
Dr Bridie Scott-Parker
Dr Bridie Scott-Parker will hold forums morning and afternoon at the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs on Saturday and Sunday.
The forums will be small groups where young drivers can talk about positives and negatives they experienced when they interacted with police, how it influenced their behaviour and their attitude now towards police.
Participants will get cake, drinks and $20 for their time - about 1.5 hours.
Any young drivers interested in participating can email firstname.lastname@example.org.