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In control, not under the weather

Section overview

An image of a car being driven in wet weather.This section explores young people's perception of risk.

Risk taking is a natural and important part of young people's development. It stems from their desire to achieve autonomy, however it can potentially lead to risky behaviour that presents dangerous consequences. In young people, risk taking usually involves trying to meet challenges — extending capabilities and developing competencies, self-worth and acceptance.

Teacher resources

The below activities explore young people's perception of risk. The activities are designed to be delivered in a group classroom environment.

Activity 1

Students brainstorm all of the risks that they take every day and determine whether the risks have the potential for positive outcomes or negative outcomes.

Activity 2

First, each student selects a card from the risk continuum cards.

A risk continuum is set up where one end is designated as 'least risky' and the other end as 'most risky'. Students take turns reading their card aloud to others before placing their card on the continuum according to the perceived level of risk. There should be no discussion about placement until all of the cards have been placed. After this, discussion should occur about the level of agreement within the class with placement of cards and students should have an opportunity to change the placement of cards. They should justify their decision. Students should be encouraged to discuss the sorts of things they took into consideration when calculating risk. Students should also be encouraged to discuss factors which increase risk and factors which decrease risk.

Activity 3

One way that young drivers can reduce their level of driving risk is to get lots of practice in a range of driving conditions. One way for students to do this is to become familiar with the RACQ learner drives*.

Activity 4

Facilitate student discussion groups around the topics outlined below.

  1. The safest time for young drivers to be driving is when they have their learner licence. The least safe time is when they have their provisional licence. Discuss possible reasons why this is the case.
  2. All risk is bad.
  3. Driving is not a risky activity.
  4. Driving while tired can be more dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol. What similarities exist between driving while tired and driving under the influence of alcohol?

Activity 5

Students brainstorm the effects of driving tired on the body and examine why driving tired can be as risky as driving under the influence of alcohol. As a group, students discuss possible strategies to avoid driving tired. 

Students can record their findings into a table showing the effects of driving tired and the strategies motorists can use to avoid driving tired.

Activity 6

Students discuss a range of scenarios where they might find themselves at risk of driving with a drunk/drugged driver. Students can role play one or more of the proposed scenarios. For example, driving home late after a party. The students could then discuss a range of strategies that they could use to avoid driving with a drunk/drugged driver. Students can also become familiar with and discuss the restrictions that may impact on them driving at night.

Activity 7

First, students research the following online information sources:

After becoming familiar with the information on these websites, students discuss the following topics in small groups: 

  1. What are the physiological warning signs of driving tired?
  2. What can you do to avoid driving tired?
  3. How often should you stop and take a break from driving?
  4. Why is it important to take a break from driving when you feel tired?
  5. Why do you think driver reviver sites are only open during peak holiday times?
  6. Is driving tired an acceptable behaviour? Why, or why not?
  7. What are some of the possible consequences of driving tired?
  8. If you make the decision to drive tired and you become involved in a crash, who would be affected by your decision? Draw a concept map listing all the people who would be affected by your decision — family, friends, medical personnel, police and so on.

Teacher's note: Teachers need to be aware that discussions about road trauma are very sensitive and should be approached accordingly.

Activity 8

Students investigate road crash statistics, paying particular attention to crash factors such as the time of day, day of the week and the prevailing road and weather conditions. Students then discuss the topics below before determining what types of driving situations would place them most at risk of having a crash.

  1. At what time of day do most crashes occur? Why do you think this is so?
  2. On what day of the week do most crashes occur? What factors would help explain this?
  3. What road conditions lead to the most crashes? Why is this so?
  4. What strategies could young drivers use to minimise the risk of being involved in a crash?

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Last updated
31 January 2018