The impact of changes to the NSW graduated driver licensing system on subsequent crash and offense experience

Victor Siskind*, Ian J. Faulks, Mary C. Sheehan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: In mid-2007 the State of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia introduced modifications to the existing graduated driver licensing system, lengthening the mandatory number of supervised hours for learner drivers aged under 25 years from 50 to 120 and extending the minimum learner period from 6 to 12 months. Additional driving restrictions were also introduced for young drivers in the two provisional licensed periods, P1, P2. This paper aims to evaluate this change by comparing the crash and offense experiences of young learner drivers before and after it occurred. Method: From driver licensing files supplied by the NSW transport authority two cohorts of persons obtaining their initial learner's permits in the year prior to the changes and in the subsequent year were constructed with demographic data, dates of transition to the driving phases, dates of crashes, and dates and types of traffic offenses. Both cohorts comprised around 100,000 individuals. Crash rates per 100 years of person-time under observation post P1 with their standard errors were calculated. Using a survival-analytic approach the proportion of crashes of all types were graphed in three month periods post P1. Sexes were treated separately as were initial learner ages of 16, 17, 18–21, and 22–24 years. The distribution of traffic offense types during P1 and P2 phases were also compared. With such large numbers formal statistical testing was avoided. Results: No meaningful differences in the crash or offense experiences of the two cohorts in either sex or at any age were observed. Delaying progress to unsupervised driving has road safety benefits. Conclusions: At least in conditions similar to those in NSW, requiring more than 50 h of supervised driving seems to have few road safety benefits. Practical applications: Licensing authorities should be cautious in extending the mandated number of supervised driving hours beyond 50.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-114
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • learner driver
  • program evaluation
  • hours of supervised driving
  • age at driver licensing
  • young drivers


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