While Australia’s road toll has reduced considerably in a generation, Griffith University’s Dr Lyndel Bates will spend the next few years helping to bring the numbers down even lower.

In 2011, Australian drivers aged 17-25 comprised 13 per cent of the population yet this demographic accounted for 22 per cent of all the national road fatalities.

Dr Bates, from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is a recipient of the Australian Research Council’s latest award funding outcomes and receives $365 996 for her project “The road to compliance: Integrating three theories.”

“It sounds technical but it really is all about reducing young driver fatalities and injuries by developing a new, integrated theory of policing combining several key elements, some tried and true and some fresh approaches.”

Dr Bates said her research will be framed around the elements of deterrence, procedural justice and third-party policing approaches and will shy away from traditional policing models which have shown to be rather ineffective for young drivers.

“My research clearly shows this age group is not deterred by a police presence but what does worry them is the reaction of their parents finding out they have offended.

“What I want to tap in into is a combination of these elements and come up with a model which is optimal and is specifically targeted to be most effective against young drivers.”

Criminologist Lyndel Bates

A new approach to how young drivers interact with police officers after being pulled over has also led to some key findings in Dr Bates’ preliminary research.

“We found that when an officer was friendlier to the driver, there was a shift in the perception about the seriousness and willingness to reflect on the drink-driving message”.

Dr Bates is one of five Griffith academics to have received a Discovery Early Research Award (DECRA) in the ARC’s latest funding program.