Background: The overrepresentation of young drivers in road trauma statistics produces significant media interest. Graduated licensing restrictions involving night-time curfews and restrictions on passenger numbers are prominent topics within media coverage. This was particularly apparent in Australia between January 2004 and July 2008, when various models of either restriction were introduced in four states. Methods: Australian newspaper and Sydney free-to-air television coverage during the peak period were analysed to identify the framing strategies used by news actors supporting or opposing these policies. Results: Fifteen frames were identified. These predominantly assessed the proposed restrictions in terms of their need, evidence base, practicality and the degree to which they were consonant with 'commonsense' perceptions and had community support. While expert road injury reduction news actors primarily emphasised their moral imperative and likely effectiveness, opponents stressed their impracticality and proposed alternative solutions. Conclusions: Research evidence is only one component of information presented as policy-relevant in policy discourse conducted in news media. Policy reform advocates using the media to advocate for evidence-based policies in road injury prevention need to appreciate that evidence is not the only currency exchanged in such debates and should study opponents' rhetoric in order to anticipate and counteract the framing strategies being used.
- Road safety