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Pathways linking car transport for young adults and the public health in Northern Ireland: a qualitative study to inform the evaluation of graduated driver licensing

Christie, N; Steinbach, R; Green, J; Mullan, MP; Prior, L; (2017) Pathways linking car transport for young adults and the public health in Northern Ireland: a qualitative study to inform the evaluation of graduated driver licensing. BMC Public Health , 17 , Article 551. 10.1186/s12889-017-4470-x. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Novice drivers are at relatively high risk of road traffic injury. There is good evidence that Graduated Driving Licensing (GDL) schemes reduce collisions rates, by reducing exposure to risk and by extending learning periods. Legislation for a proposed scheme in Northern Ireland was passed in 2016, providing an opportunity for future evaluation of the full public health impacts of a scheme in a European context within a natural experiment. This qualitative study was designed to inform the logic model for such an evaluation, and provide baseline qualitative data on the role of private cars in health and wellbeing. Methods: Nine group interviews with young people aged 16–23 (N = 43) and two group interviews with parents of young people (N = 8) were conducted in a range of settings in Northern Ireland in 2015. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis. Results: Informal car-pooling within and beyond households led to routine expectations of lift provision and uptake. Experiences of risky driving situations were widespread. In rural areas, extensive use of farm vehicles for transport needs meant many learner drivers had both early driving experience and expectations that legislation may have to be locally adapted to meet social needs. Cars were used as a site for socialising, as well as essential means of transport. Alternative modes (public transport, walking and cycling) were held in low esteem, even where available. Recall of other transport-related public health messages and parents’ existing use of GDL-type restrictions suggested GDL schemes were acceptable in principle. There was growing awareness and use of in-car technologies (telematics) used by insurance companies to reward good driving. Conclusions: Key issues to consider in evaluating the broader public health impact of GDL will include: changes in injury rates for licensed car occupants and other populations and modes; changes in exposure to risk in the licensed and general population; and impact on transport exclusion. We suggest an important pathway will be change in social norms around offering and accepting lifts and to risk-taking. The growing adoption of in-car telematics will have implications for future GDL programmes and for evaluation.

Type: Article
Title: Pathways linking car transport for young adults and the public health in Northern Ireland: a qualitative study to inform the evaluation of graduated driver licensing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-017-4470-x
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-017-4470-x
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s). 2017 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Graduated driver licensing, Driving Focus groups, Logic model, Northern Ireland, Qualitative, Telematics, Transport
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1557792
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