Research Output

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

  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.

  • Type:

    Book Chapter

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    Nova Science Publishers

  • Library of Congress:

    HE Transportation and Communications

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    388 Transportation; ground transportation


Kinnear, N. A. D. & Stradling, S. G. (2011). Young novice drivers and the development of somatic markers for risk on the road. In Hennessy, D. A. (Ed.). Traffic Psychology: An International Perspective, 69-85. Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 978-1616688462



Novice drivers; crash risk; inexperience; Somatic Marker Hypothesis; driving experience;

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