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Young novice drivers and the development of somatic markers for risk on the road.

Kinnear, Neale A D; Stradling, Stephen G


Neale A D Kinnear

Stephen G Stradling


D A Hennessy


The novice driver problem is a worldwide trend that, in the UK, involves one in five newly licensed drivers being crash involved in their first year of driving (Maycock and Forsyth, 1997). Research suggests that both age and inexperience are major factors of novice driver crash risk, although inexperience has been shown to be the more important (Maycock, 2002). Crash risk reduces dramatically as drivers gain experience of driving after licensure, but what drivers are psychologically learning through experience is not yet understood. This chapter investigates what it is that drivers may be learning and discusses decision making literature and neurological theory in the process. A common theme involving the role of feelings and emotion emerges as promoted by the Somatic Marker Hypothesis (Damasio, 1994) – an evolved automated system of human risk appraisal that biases judgement and decision making. Two studies are presented that were based on such theory and investigate novice and experienced drivers‘ emotional appraisal of hazards by measuring skin conductance. The results suggest that novice drivers fail to emotionally appraise developing hazards when compared to experienced drivers. It was demonstrated that novice drivers who had driven less than 1000 miles had physiological anticipatory scores similar to learner drivers, whereas novices who had driven more than 1000 miles had scores approaching those of experienced drivers. This results in an emotional learning curve mediated by driving experience.

Publication Date 2011-03
Deposit Date Apr 11, 2012
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 69-85
Book Title Traffic Psychology: An International Perspective
ISBN 978-1616688462
Keywords Novice drivers; crash risk; inexperience; Somatic Marker Hypothesis; driving experience;
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