A new study from the University of Western Australia is seeking P-plater participants to examine whether a smartphone app providing feedback to young drivers could improve road safety.

Scientists from The University of Western Australia are seeking P-platers aged 17 to 20 living in regional WA to participate in a study examining road behaviour in young drivers, and whether a specialised smart app could help keep roads safe.

The call for volunteers coincides with Road Safety Week (May 16-23), an annual initiative that highlights the impact of road trauma and ways to reduce it.

The study is funded through a grant from the Neurotrauma Research Program, and researchers are seeking young drivers who live in the South West, Great Southern and Mid-West regions and drive three or more times a week.

Dr Michelle Fraser from the Western Australian Centre for Road Safety Research at UWA said young drivers were one of the most vulnerable road user groups so understanding their road behaviour was important.

“More than 100 young road users aged between 17 and 19 were killed or seriously injured in WA in 2019 alone, so it’s imperative that we change these statistics,” Dr Fraser said.

“Particularly in rural areas where vehicle speed limits are higher, and the roads are less forgiving, our young people are at high risk. This is why we are keen to conduct the study in regional areas in WA.”

Dr Fraser said a key cause of road crashes that involved young people was lack of experience.

“Managing attention, prioritising tasks, making fast decisions and assessing road conditions are skills that can take years to develop.

“Road rules and restrictions play an important role in road safety, but anything we can do to accelerate learning and provide feedback to young drivers is important.”

Participants will be asked to complete a 15-minute telephone survey, install an app on their phone that will provide feedback on speeding, braking, accelerating and other movements following their driving trips, and complete an online survey at the end of the eight-week study.

Dr Fraser said the study would not only help participants brush up on their driving skills, but help develop smartphone technology to improve road safety. Details of participants involved in the study will remain confidential.

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