First 6 months after P-plates the most deadly

AN expert in driver behaviour has urged Coast parents to more closely monitor their children after they throw away their L-plates, warning they are at greater risk of dying during the first six months of holding a licence than at any other time.

University of the Sunshine Coast academic Dr Bridie Scott-Parker said many parents were so focused on getting their teens through the learner's process and practical exam, they dropped their guard when they were qualified to drive.

But she said the real danger to young drivers lay in the first six months they were on their P1 licence. "There is a massive spike in crashes from the minute that young people can drive by themselves up until six months after they have been on the roads," Dr Scott-Parker said.

"IT is a time when they are more concerned about fitting in with their social group and not about what mum and dad think about what they are doing.

"They are more inclined to take risks like speeding, driving while texting and doing burnouts for peer group alignment."

The former QUT Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland researcher said there was so much focus on the fatalities on the roads that the hundreds of people permanently injured each year were often overlooked.

The majority were young people who were involved in unsafe practices so they could be seen as cool to their friends.

Dr Scott-Parker said she had seen instances where seven young people were squeezed into a car that only sat five; young people travelling in boots or standing up in the tray of a utility.

"They need to remember there are worse things than being dead," she said.

"You could end up with a permanent brain injury that will never heal, or be in hospital for years with a spinal injury.

"When you are 17-years-old, it's not a great concept."

Dr Scott-Parker also urged teenagers to stand up for their own safety, particularly when they were travelling in someone else's vehicle.

"It is normal for adolescents, particularly young males, to take risks and test the boundaries," she said.

"It is exciting for them to do lots of burnouts and if they don't crash or get caught by the police, it is rewarding for them.

"But we want to protect as many young people as we can and you should feel that you can speak up and tell them you think they are a bit of an idiot and don't drive like that."

Many people, not only youngsters, did not realise how dangerous it was to be a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident as the natural survival instinct of a driver was to automatically protect themselves.

"If you are on the passenger side, you will find when a car loses it going around a corner, that is the death seat.

"It is where the impact usually is and there isn't necessarily much strength in that part of the car,

"Who cares if you are embarrassed or your friend doesn't talk to you for a day?

"If you demand they control themselves or let you out, in 20 years you'll still be alive."

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