Multi-Stage Novice Defensive Driver Training Program: Does It Create Overconfidence?


Multi-stage training programs have been recommended to transfer knowledge and skills to high-risk novice drivers. However, some have suggested there is a link between skill training and an increased crash probability due to overconfidence. This project evaluates the outcomes of a multi-phase training system and compares the performance of novice drivers who received second-stage training with that of a control group of novice drivers who received traditional, single-stage training. This trained group and an equivalent group of untrained novice drivers completed annual surveys describing their involvement with traffic citations, near-miss crashes, single-vehicle crashes, and multiple-vehicle crashes. Citation records from the Department of Motor Vehicles were also analyzed. An overdispersed Poisson model was used to compare driver behaviors for the trained and untrained groups after accounting for known confounders like gender and exposure. We were able to detect a significant increase in DMV citation rates for trained drivers in the first year after training. Furthermore, in the last two years of the study, we found evidence that trained drivers began to perform substantially better than their untrained peers, in near-miss crashes. The results of this study support literature suggesting a link between skill training and an increased crash probability due to overconfidence, but suggest that after the first year of driving experience, the training begins to pay dividends, with trained drivers performing better than their untrained peers. This trade-off of short-term consequences versus long-term benefits merits further investigation. We suggest that instruction designed to increase technical vehicle-handling skills in conjunction with modules focusing on hazard identification and risk perception may offset any effects of increased confidence in the trained group that this and past studies have found.

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J. Mueller, L. Stanley and K. Manlove, "Multi-Stage Novice Defensive Driver Training Program: Does It Create Overconfidence?," Open Journal of Safety Science and Technology, Vol. 2 No. 4, 2012, pp. 133-139. doi: 10.4236/ojsst.2012.24017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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