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'Fit to drive'. the making of meanings about young people, road safety and risk in a secondary school road safety program.

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posted on 28.02.2017, 04:59 authored by Montero, Kerry Anne
This thesis is about young people, road safety and risk and the construction of meanings in a school-based intervention. This thesis provides a detailed examination of ‘Fit to Drive’, a road safety program targeting year 11 students in secondary schools in Victoria. Despite significant road toll reductions since 1990, young drivers continue to have more casualty crashes than any other group of drivers on the road (TAC 2012). The continued over-representation of young drivers in road crashes has given rise to targeted public policy and education interventions aimed at reducing the involvement of young people in road trauma, aiming to change behaviours which are understood to put young people at risk on the roads. In this thesis I analyse how Fit to Drive works as a schools-based intervention targeting the problem of young people, road use and risk. Recognising that ‘risk’ as a concept is central to discourses of road safety, I consider the complex understandings surrounding the notion of risk, and its connection to ways of ‘knowing’ young people. Drawing on road safety literatures, as well as socio-cultural analyses, I explore the way ‘risk’ is employed within Fit to Drive, and the ways that notions and understandings of ‘risk’, ‘risk-taking’, and ‘at-risk’ inform and shape the discourse of young people and road use. This thesis explores the ways in which Fit to Drive works to generate particular knowledges about road use and young people, and the degree to which young people are engaged in the construction of those knowledges. This thesis therefore aims to explore the ideas, beliefs and attitudes about risk and road use expressed by young people participating in the Fit to Drive workshops, alongside an examination of the specific characteristics of the program that create the conditions for new understandings in its ‘target group’ and that contribute to its effectiveness as a schools-based intervention. Road safety education research and interventions have tended to focus on the design of programs based on behaviour change theory, incorporating road safety research to target unsafe road user behaviours and attitudes (Buckley, Reveruzzi & Watson 2012). Whilst recognising that Fit to Drive incorporates key features of behaviour change models, such as participatory (peer-led) facilitated discussion, the development of personal strategies and practice of resistance and assertiveness skills, in this thesis I am interested in exploring and analysing the qualitative, aesthetic, dimensions of the program that create the conditions in which meaning making (in relation to road safety) occurs. I draw upon theoretical approaches from phenomenological and narrative research traditions in order to develop an understanding of the elements that are essential to the ‘quality’ of the Fit to Drive program experience. I provide an analysis of the individual elements and modes of engagement - the activities, the different modes of delivery, the role of narratives, group encounters and visual images – how they work, and the way they work together in the context of the school setting to achieve a meaningful impact. In broad terms, the thesis contributes to knowledge about the factors that contribute to successful health promotion interventions in the school setting.


Principal supervisor

Jo Lindsay

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Social and Political Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type


Campus location



Faculty of Arts

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