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2012 Young people & road safety: the bigger picture Assoc. Prof. Lise Bird Claiborne Faculty of Education / Te Kura Toi Tangata University of Waikato/

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Presentation on theme: "2012 Young people & road safety: the bigger picture Assoc. Prof. Lise Bird Claiborne Faculty of Education / Te Kura Toi Tangata University of Waikato/"— Presentation transcript:

1 2012 Young people & road safety: the bigger picture Assoc. Prof. Lise Bird Claiborne Faculty of Education / Te Kura Toi Tangata University of Waikato/ Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

2 My background & expertise Research perspectives New approach: cultural stories Data from online study of young people Problems with a story about SKILL Implications: education for change Outline

3 Approaches to change- the research Traditional psychology: Understanding attitudes & links to behaviour Reaction times, processing information Clinical psychology: Unconscious motives & desires Education curriculum & pedagogy One-off & extensive, cross-curriculum Local place-based for specific settings

4 Dimensions of the problem o Majority of NZ teens take risks in cars, esp. boys with deviant peers (Fergusson et al., 2003) o Risks that challenge adult rules are a pleasurable support for adult status in a society where teens low status is unacknowledged (Harre´, 2000) o Problems: Continuing physiological development of emotional control & estimation of risk (Allen & Brown, 2008) o Blame it on the teen brain? (Males, 2009; Payne, 2012) o Positives in teen development include o Fast information processing (Sercombe, 2010) o Importance of social relationships for mental health (Allen & Brown, 2008)

5 Consider ways that the power of the status quo operates through our language habits and same-old ways (radical French thinker Michel Foucault) Media examples: Top Gear television programme Otto the bus driver in the animated series, The Simpsons Teen drivers or more complex multi-directional influences? Simple cause and effect?

6 Todays focus Critical & discursive psychology asks – how selves are constructed within stories available in our cultures, and – moves from a focus on thinking skills to larger cultural and political patterns Mystique around cars and driving, particularly around the SKILL of the expert amateur driver ? An old story: the FASTER you can do something, the more EXPERT you are judged to be.

7 Looking at young people and risk Online discussion with senior students in critical developmental psychology: cultural stories about risk-taking Young people who take risks: deviant GROUP under-developed teen brains Unsafe midlife adult: aberrant INDIVIDUAL driving a midlife crisis car poor role model for their own son/daughter

8 Ethical approval received for an anonymous interview study: 6 participants over one month of online discussion were asked these initial questions Is there is a convincing case for arguing that adolescents are not capable of handling the cognitive and emotional aspects of driving? Literature on the development of 'risky behaviour' in adolescence suggests that our society may feel more comfortable with the construction of young people as inconsistent or irrational risk-takers. What do you think? What kinds of school, peer and family supports might also be crucial for the development of careful reasoning, planning and attention in young drivers?

9 Robbie tells her story I my self was invovled in a serious car crash when I was 17 which left me in hospital for 3 months and my friend brain damaged. This occurred in a rural setting and it was because we were on an open road that we were speeding. I believe that maybe it is abit of our kiwi culture that reinforces our risk taking behaviours, but maybe it also has something to do with the geographic settings of NZ, as well as role models, consistent parenting, SES like [another participant] mentioned.

10 we were heading to a party & … remember feeling a sense of urgency-- to arrive in time, to see my friends & see how much trouble I could get myself in. I also remember feeling very independent driving to the party unsupervised unlike most of my friends, & this feeling of independence was fantastic… at that point in my life reckless driving was appealing I guess…because it was 'against the rules'. Defying my parents, and the law I guess was the ultimate thrill… The story continues…

11 But perhaps it is not just speed that is implied here. There is also another story about SKILL.

12 Robbie describes the rural setting driving to the [rural] bus stop unsupervised [from age 10]... I always felt safe... After … awhile my [male parent] brought... a cheap 'paddock racer' (old car) that we could use in the paddocks to practice driving. This was exciting and again even though we were inexperienced drivers I never remember feeling unsafe while we drove/sped around in the paddocks, again unsupervised. I was wondering... how many people thought the same as me eg, never thought that any thing bad (crashing, death) would happen

13 Note Robbies story about SKILL- such a focus for young drivers (letting me back trailers with only small tips) led me to feel that I was capable and able to drive independently. All of these situations led me to feel i was able to take the risks that i did when i first began driving (speeding, snakey's on gravel roads, driving on country roads without a license) because i felt in control of the car when i drove, and I did not feel that I was endangering anybody (at that time of my life …) Thanks to Robbie for allowing her story to be told in order to help us all reflect on how we look at driving.

14 STORY ABOUT SKILL 2 false choices Skilled racing driver Boring slow driver thrill safe

15 What educational activity could give young people SKILL CHANCE AT ADULT STATUS PLEASURE (at BREAKING RULES, & being ADMIRED BY PEERS)? What educational activity could give young people SKILL CHANCE AT ADULT STATUS PLEASURE (at BREAKING RULES, & being ADMIRED BY PEERS)?

16 In thinking creatively about education for change, meeting young people where they ARE, is there an educational intervention that could emphasise SKILL without the SPEED? Classic cars arent about speed, because everyone on the road slows for them. Technology classes could get involved with restoring classic cars… but what about a younger version of doing up cars for display rather than speed? In thinking creatively about education for change, meeting young people where they ARE, is there an educational intervention that could emphasise SKILL without the SPEED? Classic cars arent about speed, because everyone on the road slows for them. Technology classes could get involved with restoring classic cars… but what about a younger version of doing up cars for display rather than speed? Heres an idea….the story Examples from television programme, Pimp My Ride

17 Conclusions Studies of road safety and young people from intersections of psychology, education & health prevention give a complex & disturbing picture. Perhaps we need to add our collusion with a bigger cultural story about acceptable risks taken by better- than-average drivers. Changing this pervasive story will take soul searching from us all, for example through – pondering young peoples status in society and – cultural stories that pit risk against safety … when there may be a third way beyond these.

18 References Allen, J.P. & Brown, B.B. (2008). Adolescents, peers, and motor vehicles: The perfect storm? American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35 (3S), S289-S293. Fergusson, D., Swain-Campbell, N. & Horwood, J. (2003). Risky driving behaviour in young people: Prevalence, personal characteristics and traffic accidents. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 27 (3), Harre´, N. (1999). Risk evaluation, driving, and adolescents: A typology. Developmental Review, 20, Males, M. (2009). Does the adolescent brain make risk taking inevitable?: A skeptical appraisal. Journal of Adolescent Research, 24(3), Payne, M. (2012). All gas and no brakes!: Helpful metaphor or harmful stereotype?. Journal of Adolescent Research, 27(3), Rafferty, S.J. & Wundersitz, L.N. (2011). The efficacy of road safety education in schools: A review of current approaches. CASR Report 077. Adelaide: Centre for Automotive Safety Research. Sercombe, H. (2010). The gift and the trap: Working the teen brain into our concept of youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 25(1),


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