Keeping young drivers safe

Behind the wheel

With Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), Aotearoa New Zealand Transport Agency, Curative , Aotearoa New Zealand

Throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, drivers aged 16 to 24 without a valid driver licence are more likely to have a serious crash than licensed drivers. We worked with the Aotearoa New Zealand Transport Agency and Accident Compensation Corporation to co-design a behaviour change programme to reduce the number of young people driving without a license or in breach of license conditions.

The challenge

Over half

of young drivers in Aotearoa New Zealand who are at fault in fatal or serious injury crashes have a history of licence breaches

At least half

of young drivers in South Auckland are driving unlicensed or in breach of their licence

In South Auckland young drivers are at an even higher risk of having an accident than in other parts of Aotearoa New Zealand, and it is common for young people in South Auckland to drive a car without the right licence.

Māngere is a suburb in South Auckland and home to Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest airport. With a population of approximately 63,000, Māngere is the size of a small Aotearoa New Zealand city. Its significant urban population is concentrated in a small area. The population is uniquely youthful, Pacific and has lower incomes than the national average – all of which increase the risk of unlicensed and unsafe driving

It has become so common to drive without the right licence in Māngere that many community members do not see the point of getting a driver’s licence. This is despite the serious risks of unlicensed and illegal driving. Driving without the right licence can have safety, employment, legal and financial consequences.

Behind the Wheel is a social marketing programme aimed at reducing the number of young people (16-24 year olds) that drive unlicensed or in breach of their licence. The programme was co-designed with a suburban community in South Auckland, engaging a diverse range of community members in co-design, research and testing ideas.

We completed a literature review and then trained 20 Māngere residents to gather insights by interviewing three of their peers. Eleven of the insight gatherers were aged 16 to 24 years; nine were parents or family members of young people. They represented a range of ethnicities and suburban areas of Māngere, and held different types of driving licences – including some with no licence.  The insight gatherers interviewed a total of 61 Māngere people.

A co-design group was formed, comprising 15 project partners, community leaders, young drivers, and parents and family members of young people, as well as other creative thinkers to bring a fresh perspective. Over 18 months the co-design group agreed on the target audiences, behaviour change goals and developed and tested specific behaviour change initiatives.

“[I'm proud of] what we’ve accomplished from scratch and how many people now have their licence.” Behind the Wheel Co-designer

Behind the Wheel New Zealand project Behind the Wheel New Zealand project Behind the Wheel New Zealand project

“Well done on delivering a great co-design [process]. You put an effective group of people around the table and ran two very slick sessions. Impressive.” Community leader

Our impact

Over 100

Māngere people engaged in co-designing Behind the Wheel


of those engaged in Behind the Wheel made steps towards getting their licence in the last 12 months

By enabling the participation of community members and leaders, including young people and their families, Behind the Wheel shifted the norm around unlicensed driving in Māngere.

“It has actually empowered the community to become the main focus. Rather than people coming in and doing things to the community, the community have been allowed to become part of it… it is important for sustainability.” Community member