Risky driving among Australian teens

Risky driving among Australian teens

Suzanne Vassallo

LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2018 chapter – December 2019

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Woman driving her car with both hands on steering wheel


In 2016, when aged 16–17, LSAC study teenagers were asked about their experiences of risky driving. At this age, many would be expected to be learning to drive, or just starting to drive independently. Using their responses, this report provides a snapshot of adolescents’ risky driving behaviours, with comparisons made between learner, provisional and unlicensed drivers. Four main types of risky driving are examined: (1) speeding; (2) driving when fatigued; (3) driving when affected by alcohol or illegal drugs; and (4) driving without a seatbelt/helmet. Characteristics associated with the engagement in risky driving behaviours are also examined, as are experiences of being a passenger of a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Key findings

  • Close to 80% of P-platers and 55% of learner drivers aged 16–17 had engaged in some form of risky driving on at least one of their 10 most recent trips.

  • More than one in 10 teens without a licence or learner’s permit had taken risks while driving a car or riding a motorbike.

  • Speeding by up to 10 km/h over the limit and driving while tired were the two most common forms of risky driving.

  • One in five teens who failed to wear a seatbelt when driving (or a helmet if riding a motorcycle) did so every trip.

  • Learner drivers, P-platers and unlicensed drivers did not differ in their rates of seatbelt/ helmet use.

  • Almost 4% of teens had driven while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the past year.

  • About one in 10 teens had been the passenger of a driver who was under the influence in the past year.

  • Teenagers who drank alcohol or used marijuana were more likely to engage in all types of risky driving.

Read the full chapter: Risky driving among Australian teens.


Featured image: © GettyImages/moisseyev

Publication details

LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2018 chapter
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, December 2019