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Objective: Transport impacts teenagers by affecting their autonomy and independent access to activities. This manuscript reports descriptive findings of transport behaviours among teenagers in Southland, New Zealand, and discusses the implications of these for public health and policy. Methods: An online survey was implemented to investigate transport among respondents aged 16 years and older from twelve secondary schools. Two methods of survey distribution were used (in‐class and at home). Descriptive results were analysed using Stata. Results: Response rate was 71.5% (n=775). The most common forms of transport were as a passenger in a car and walking. Two‐thirds of participants had some form of driving licence. Half the sample expressed frustration at being unable to access activities. Significant gender differences existed regarding transport and types of activities accessed. Licence status was associated with physical activity, screen time and transport frustration. Conclusions: The transport decisions made by teenagers, in aggregate, have implications for policy and infrastructure, and findings provide a foundation for discussions around potential changes to driver education programming, the school uniform policy in New Zealand and further research. Implications for public health: Inquiring about everyday transport habits, outside of the trip to school, and activities accessed provided data about an under‐researched group, supporting the ecological approach to transport in the context of public health.
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2018 Online Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 1
© 2018 The Authors
The transport modes chosen by New
Zealand (NZ) teenagers are based upon
individual decisions that, in aggregate,
have signicant public health implications.
Although vehicle crashes involving young
people are dropping, teenagers continue to
display a disproportionate amount of risk as
drivers and passengers when compared to
other age groups in NZ.1,2 Consequently, the
research emphasis with regard to teenagers
and transportation continues to be on car
use. While the disproportionate risk for
teenagers is key to framing any discussion of
youth and transport, trac injuries are only
one of the harms caused by over-reliance
on the car as primary mode of transport.
Other ‘non-trac’ risks include, for example,
obesity due to the inactivity caused by
overuse of the car; alcohol/ drug use and risky
sexual activity due to the private space a car
provides; and poorer grades attributed to the
distraction provided by access to a private
car.3 The health benets of active transport
are often a focus of transport research, and
those who use active transport are generally
healthier than those who do not.4 Clearly,
transportation is a public health concern,
especially among older teenagers.
Measures of crash risk and licence status
are only one part of the transport-related
health equation and may not provide a
comprehensive image of overall health
status. Every-day transportation choices (or
lack of) aect many things, such as older
teenagers’ health, autonomy, and their ability
to independently access their friendship
groups and key activities (leisure, social,
civic, sporting and work).5 At the same time,
licensing and driving among older teenagers
has been decreasing worldwide since 2005,
inspiring thought-provoking questions about
the future of transport and transport-related
interventions, the reasons behind uctuations
in licensing and driving,6,7 and the impact
on broader health and wellbeing. This
highlights the need for more descriptive data
to understand how and why older teenagers
travel, outside of their trip to and from school,
in order to determine what transport habits
might have an impact on public health.
The dynamics of various contributing factors
and context are important when researching
transportation among older teenagers
(so-called ‘transition teens’) as they evolve
into early adulthood and are on the cusp of
making major life decisions.8 Involvement
in activities and hobbies strengthens
community attachment and social bonds,
and thus relates to health.9-12 Among older
teenagers, participation in sport has been
positively associated with psychological
health,13 and participating in hobbies and
activities creates an attachment to place and
Transport behaviours among older teenagers from
semi-rural New Zealand
Aimee L. Ward,1,2,3 Rob McGee,1 Claire Freeman,2 Philip J. Gendall,4 Claire Cameron5
1. Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
2. Department of Geography, University of Otago, New Zealand
3. Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
4. Department of Marketing, University of Otago, New Zealand
5. Biostatistics Unit, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, New Zealand
Correspondence to: Dr Aimee L. Ward, Department of Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054,
New Zealand; e-mail: aimee.ward@otago.ac.nz
Submitted: December 2017; Revision requested: February 2018; Accepted: April 2018
The authors have stated they have no conict of interest.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium,
provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modications or adaptations are made.
Aust NZ J Public Health. 2018; Online; doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12803
Abstract
Objective: Transport impacts teenagers by aecting their autonomy and independent access
to activities. This manuscript reports descriptive ndings of transport behaviours among
teenagers in Southland, New Zealand, and discusses the implications of these for public health
and policy.
Methods: An online survey was implemented to investigate transport among respondents
aged 16 years and older from twelve secondary schools. Two methods of survey distribution
were used (in-class and at home). Descriptive results were analysed using Stata.
Results: Response rate was 71.5% (n=775). The most common forms of transport were as a
passenger in a car and walking. Two-thirds of participants had some form of driving licence.
Half the sample expressed frustration at being unable to access activities. Signicant gender
dierences existed regarding transport and types of activities accessed. Licence status was
associated with physical activity, screen time and transport frustration.
Conclusions: The transport decisions made by teenagers, in aggregate, have implications for
policy and infrastructure, and ndings provide a foundation for discussions around potential
changes to driver education programming, the school uniform policy in New Zealand and
further research.
Implications for public health: Inquiring about everyday transport habits, outside of the trip
to school, and activities accessed provided data about an under-researched group, supporting
the ecological approach to transport in the context of public health.
Key words: survey methods, independent mobility, transportation and health, licensing
2 Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2018 Online
© 2018 The Authors
Ward et al.
a sense of social wellbeing.14-16 In this context,
one’s community has an immediate impact
on one’s daily life and health.17 It follows,
then, that transport plays a key role in this
involvement, participation and strengthening
of attachments. With this in mind, we used
a qualitative photovoice project to examine
the transport habits of older adolescents in
a semi-rural region in NZ to inform further
in-depth study.18 We found consistent themes
surrounding transport, such as nancial costs,
barriers and safety issues, and the satisfaction
arising from using active transport (such as
walking, cycling and skateboarding). All of
these issues relate to health.
The current study describes the methods and
preliminary descriptive ndings of an original
online survey of older teenagers in Southland,
NZ. The aims of the current study were to
examine the transport habits and activities
accessed by rural youth in NZ and highlight
gender dierences, in order to discuss
implications for public health and to advise
future research.
Methods
Preliminary investigations
The content of the online survey was
informed by preliminary qualitative research
via a photovoice project (April–August
2014).18 Design and distribution of the survey
was tested via a pilot study (October 2014)
that was implemented to assess the feasibility
of the online survey method.19 The pilot study
was distributed to two secondary schools
that were not included in the current study.
During the pilot study, two methods of survey
delivery were used. Both methods allowed
for respondent feedback about the survey
content and process, and this feedback
served to inform content changes to the nal
survey described in the present study. As a
result of feedback during the photovoice and
pilot studies, the survey was also translated
into te reo Māori (the Māori language) in co-
operation with an immersion school, and that
process is detailed elsewhere.20
Research environment
The nalised survey was distributed to
participating secondary schools in Southland,
NZ, between January and June 2015.
Southland is a mainly rural region, with a
population of about 98,000; however, it
includes two main city centres, Invercargill
(population 50,000) and Gore (population
12,500), which are urban in comparison
to the rest of the region they inhabit. The
‘semi-urban, semi-rural’ nature of Southland
creates an interesting setting for the
study of transport.21 Walking and cycling
infrastructure, while present within some of
the towns in Southland, does not connect
the towns to each other; some towns are
separated by many kilometres. For example,
towns in the rural northern part of the region
are approximately 100 km from the relatively
urban centres in the south. Southland was
also chosen for this research because the area
is unique in transport issues; by population,
Southland has a higher crash risk among
older adolescents than other regions of NZ.
Also, the area presents a uniquely diverse
population of the South Island of NZ;
Southland is comprised of mostly European
New Zealanders but has the largest Māori
population (about 12%) of any other region in
the South Island.22
Sampling and recruitment
Sampling and recruitment were identical
to practices in the pilot study.19 Secondary
schools were chosen as a means of
recruitment to access the age group of
interest. Each principal at all thirteen
secondary schools in Southland was sent a
letter oering information about the survey
and requesting participation. A follow-up
phone call was made to those who did not
respond; ultimately, twelve of the thirteen
schools agreed to participate. Participants
were recruited from Years 12 and 13, in order
to encompass mainly those old enough to
qualify for the rst stage of a driving licence
(aged 16 years).
Survey design and measures
The Qualtrics online survey tool was used
to design, preview and distribute the
survey.23 As far as possible, we sought to
include questions from existing surveys.
Questions about transport modes used
and licence status were adapted from
Schoettle and Sivak, and Kamargianni et
al.24,25 Respondents were asked, “In the last
month, which of these have you used to
get to places? Tick as many as apply to you.
They could choose from school bus, public
bus, walking, cycling, skateboarding, car (as
driver), car (as passenger), and motorbike or
scooter. Respondents were then asked why
they chose their transport mode and were
required to tick reasons from a brief list. They
were then asked, “What sort of driver’s licence
do you have?”, and could choose one of four
options: none, learner’s, restricted, or full. If
they did not have a licence, they were queried
as to the reason. Transport frustration was
assessed with the question “In the last month,
how often have you been frustrated because
you can’t get where you want to go?” It has
been suggested that the use of technology
and social media may be a reason for low
levels of licensing,6,7 thus screen time was
measured using questions adapted from the
New Zealand 2012 Youth Insights Survey.26 A
single-question physical activity query was
included to assess physical health.27,28
Questions about activities outside of school
were also included, and these were grouped
into four categories: sports activities (such
as team sports and sporting events); cultural
activities (for example, creative activities and/
or involvement in the arts); social/leisure
activities (for example, going to the beach
or a party); and community activities (for
example, clubs outside school, volunteering,
and part-time jobs). Ethnicity was assessed
using a question from the New Zealand
census.29 Respondent addresses were
gathered and entered into Google Maps©
to directly assess distance lived from the
nearest city centre. Based on results from the
photovoice study that found uniforms to be
a deterrent to cycling,18 the survey included
a question about whether or not wearing
a school uniform aected what transport
mode respondents chose. While participants
were encouraged to answer every question,
questions could be skipped.
While some questions were amended
based on feedback after the pilot survey,19
the design of the nal version of the survey
contained the same question formats and
the same use of personalised invitations,
incentives and reminder emails, as informed
by the literature and the pilot study.19,30-32
Question response lists were randomised
to average out any order bias. To maintain
attention and interest among respondents,
six dierent question formats were used.
Survey distribution, procedures and
consent
Two methods of survey dissemination were
oered, the ‘in-class’ and ‘at-home’ methods.
As informed by the pilot study, the in-class
method resulted in a better response rate.19
Consequently, the in-class method was
presented as the preferred format to school
principals, with the at-home method oered
as a secondary option if schools were not
willing to dedicate class time to the survey.
2018 Online Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 3
© 2018 The Authors
Older teenagers and transport
Eight schools chose the in-class method of
survey delivery and four chose the at-home
method.
For the in-class method, student email
addresses were provided by the schools.
Students were then each sent a personalised
invitation to the survey on the day it was
to take place on campus, and students
accessed their email during designated
class time to complete the survey, for which
the main researcher was present. For the
at-home delivery method, student email
addresses and consents were collected
directly from interested students at approved
senior assemblies that were scheduled in
advance. These students were either emailed
a personalised invitation to the survey or
invited to the study’s Facebook page to access
the survey link, as per their request as stated
on the consent form.
Ethical approval was obtained from the
University of Otago Human Ethics Committee
(reference number 14/163). Ethical approval
allowed for consent to be given online after
participants had read the information page of
the survey.
Analysis
Descriptive ndings were analysed, including
frequencies and proportions for the measures
of interest included in the analysis. Means,
ranges of observed values (min/max) and
standard deviations (SD) were reported
where appropriate, along with the number
of responses. Unpaired t-tests (indicated
by t) were performed on the mean scores
to assess dierences between genders.
Pearson’s chi-squared tests (indicated by χ2)
were performed on categorical data, to assess
associations between gender and transport
behaviours, and licence status and some
activities. All statistically signicant results are
reported in the text.
Results
The overall response rate was 71.5% (n=775).
The average time to complete the survey
was 16 minutes. The in-class method of
distribution resulted in a better survey
response rate (77.2%) than the at-home
method (65.6%). While females had a slightly
higher response rate than males overall,
gender response rate varied based on the
delivery method. With the in-class method,
males had a higher response rate than
females (62.3% and 37.7%, respectively),
while the at-home method showed females
had a higher response rate than males (67.1%
and 33%, respectively). Reminder emails
increased response rate by 8.8%. Complete
data for all of the survey questions of interest
and their subsequent results were available
for 82% of respondents (n=636). Incomplete
surveys were included in all analysis and
results.
Sample characteristics
Table 1 describes the 775 respondents who
participated in the online survey (49% male).
The average age of respondents was 16.7
years. Because NZ has mixed-age secondary
school classes, the survey inadvertently
captured 51 respondents who were 15 years
of age, and one aged 19 years; their surveys
were included in the analysis. Eighty-ve per
cent of survey respondents self-identied
as New Zealand European, and 19.5% self-
identied as Māori, which is representative of
the NZ population as a whole.33
Transport modes and licence status
The modes of transport that respondents
used, their level of frustration with access
to transport and their licence status were
assessed to gain insight in their ability to
access their key destinations; the results are
shown in Table 2. More than one-third (34%)
of respondents reported living within walking
distance (less than or equal to 3 km) of the
nearest city centre; 30% lived within cycling
distance (4–12 km); and 37% lived within
driving distance (more than 13 km away).
The most common reported mode of
transport was being a passenger in a car
(86.2%), followed by walking (69.3%).
Table 1: Survey respondent characteristics (n=775).
n %
Gender
Male
Female
380
395
49.0
51.0
Age (yrs)
15
16
17
18
19
51
381
315
17
1
7.9
49.2
40.7
2.2
0.1
Area
Urban
Rural
552
223
71.2
28.8
Ethnicitya
NZ European
Māori
Samoan
Cook Island Māori
Tongan
Niuean
Chinese
Indian
Other
592
136
18
17
13
6
10
5
66
85.1
19.5
2.6
2.4
1.9
0.9
1.4
0.7
9.5
Self-reported weekly income
$0–50
$51–99
Over $100
414
82
198
59.7
11.8
28.5
Note:
a: This measure adds up to more than 100% because per the NZ Census,
respondents could self-identify as more than one ethnicity
Fifty-eight per cent of those with a paying job
reported driving as a mode of transport, while
31% of those without a job reported driving.
Chi-squared tests were conducted for each
transport mode, and signicant associations
existed for six of the eight modes, with
more males than females cycling (χ2=14.14,
p<0.001), skateboarding (χ2=11.35, p=0.001)
Table 2: Respondents’ transpor t and access.
Total Male Female
n % % %
Transport mode in the last month
Walk
Cycle
Skateboard
Public bus
School bus
Drive
Passenger in car
Motorcycle/Scooter
537
207
50
87
332
374
668
55
69.3
26.7
6.5
11.3
42.8
48.3
86.2
7.1
32.8
16.1
4.6
4.3
19.1
23.2
40.5
5.0
36.5
10.6
1.8
7.0
23.7
25.0
45.7
2.1
Transport frustration in the last month
Never frustrated
Sometimes frustrated
308
397
43.7
56.3
51.3
48.7
36.4
63.6
Licensing
No licence
Learner’s licence
Restricted licence
Full licence
247
248
186
22
35.4
35.3
26.5
3.1
36.6
36.6
22.7
4.1
33.7
34.1
30.1
2.2
4 Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2018 Online
© 2018 The Authors
and riding a motorcycle or scooter (χ2=11.15,
p=0.001). More females than males were a
passenger in a car (χ2=10.056, p=0.002) and
took the school bus (χ2=5.04, p=0.025) or a
public bus (χ2=5.00, p=0.025). While some
male and female respondents reported their
school uniform as a reason for not walking or
cycling, females were more aected (about
1 in 10), and a chi squared test showed a
signicant association (χ2=6.05, p=0.01).
Table 2 also shows ndings for transport
frustration and licensing. Half of respondents
(50.5%) felt frustrated sometimes during the
preceding month with regard to transport
and being able to get where they wanted
to go, with females expressing signicantly
more frustration than males (χ2=15.93,
p<0.001). There was no signicant association
between gender and licence status. Licensing
results were split roughly by thirds: 35.4%
of respondents reported having no licence,
35.3% had their learner’s licence, and 29.6%
had either their restricted or full licence.
There was a signicant association between
licence status and transport frustration overall
2= 32.73, p<0.001), as well as by gender
(males: χ2= 10.44, p=0.015; females: χ2= 30.25,
p<0.001). Among males, 47.6% of those with
no licence reported being frustrated, while
those with a restricted or full licence were
less likely to be frustrated (43% and 15%,
respectively). Among females, 67.8% of those
with no licence reported being frustrated,
while those with a restricted or full licence
were less likely to be frustrated (45% and
38%, respectively). Interestingly, there was
a spike in transport frustration among both
males and females after getting their learner’s
licence (from 47.6 to 57%, and 67.8% to 78%,
respectively). Among those respondents
without a driving licence in this study, about
one-third stated they were too busy to be
bothered” getting a licence, one-quarter cited
nancial reasons for not having a licence
or driving, and one-fth of respondents
reported they “didn’t feel ready” to drive.
These explanations for not having a licence or
driving were also present in the preliminary
photovoice study.18
Activities
The activities that respondents participated
in were assessed to establish what types of
key destinations they regularly accessed. The
total mean score of all activities (sporting,
cultural, social, and community) participated
in during the previous month was 15.8;
females had a higher activity mean score
than males (16.0 and 15.5, respectively). The
mean and standard deviation of the activities
that respondents participated in during the
previous month are presented in Table 3.
Males had a higher mean sports participation
than females (t=3.92, p<0.001), but the
reverse was true for social and cultural
activities (t=-3.28, p=0.001, and t=-4.45,
p<0.001, respectively). The most represented
activities in this sample were of a sporting
(89%), social (98%), and community (89%)
nature. The most commonly reported sports
were water sports, athletics, and team events
and practices, while the most commonly
reported social activities were going shopping,
going out with friends, going to the beach,
going to the movies, going to a party, and going
to the park. The most commonly reported
community activities were participating
in a club, volunteering, and being part of a
church group. Relatively speaking, reported
participation in cultural activities was low
(31%), with the most common activities being
visiting a place of worship, dancing, and playing
an instrument. Overall, 65% of respondents
reported having a job, which is twice the
national average for this age group.34
Just 13% of respondents met the
recommended screen time guidelines set by
the New Zealand Ministry of Health of two
hours per day or less, and 58% of the sample
met or exceeded weekly recommended
physical activity requirements. As seen in
Table 3, the mean of screen time was 4.9
hours per day, and the mean of physical
activity was 4.3 days of exercise per week.
Males reported more days per week of
physical activity than females (t=4.39,
p<0.001), but also reported more screen time;
however, the dierence in reported screen
time was not statistically signicant.
There were some signicant associations
between licence status and both screen
time and physical activity within each
gender. There was a signicant association
between licence status and screen time
use among males (χ2= 14.45, p=0.002); only
11% of those with no licence met screen
time recommendations (≤2 hours per day),
while those with their leaner’s, restricted,
or full licence were more likely to meet
recommendations (27%, 31% and 38%,
respectively). Among females there was a
statistically signicant association between
licence status and physical activity (χ2= 8.67,
p=0.034); 53% of those with no licence met
physical activity recommendations (one hour
on four or more days per week), while those
with a learner’s, restricted, or full licence were
more likely to meet recommendations (57%,
71% and 75%, respectively). Those without
a licence reported participating in a mean of
14.6 activities during the last month, fewer
than those who had a learner’s, restricted
or full licence (means of 15.7, 17.6 and 17.9,
respectively.
Conclusions
Because 92% of available schools
participated in this study, this research
presents descriptive information about an
entire geographical area of NZ not before
targeted for transport research. Signicant
gender dierences were found in the survey
outcomes. Key ndings emerging from this
study of rural teenagers included transport
choice, activity participation, licence status,
and cycling and school uniforms.
Transport choice
The most common mode of transport in
this study was being a passenger in a car,
followed by walking. Walking as a mode of
transportation is well-researched, but the lack
of research on car passengers (beyond how
passengers aect the driver), is noteworthy,
especially when considering its prevalence
in this sample, particularly among females.
Ward et al.
Table 3: Respondents’ ac tivities in the previous month.
Total
n
Total Male Female
Mean SD Min/MaxaMean SD Mean SD
Activities
Sports
Cultural
Social
Community
Total
747
738
739
735
747
4.0
1.8
4.8
2.5
15.8
2.7
1.9
1.6
1.8
5.6
0/12
0/9
0/7
0/7
0/36
4.4
1.5
4.6
2.5
15.5
2.8
1.9
1.7
1.9
5.9
3.7
2.1
5.0
2.5
16.0
2.5
2.1
1.5
1.7
5.1
Screen time (hours/day) 682 4.9 5.0 1/24 5.2 6.4 4.7 3.3
Physical activity (days/week) 677 4.3 2.1 0/7 4.7 2.1 4.1 2.1
Note:
a: “Min/Max” refers to observed minimums and maximums among the sample
2018 Online Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 5
© 2018 The Authors
More than half of this sample reported that
they used active transport because it was
their exercise; almost half reported walking
and cycling because it was safe and easy; and
one-third reported that walking was a social
activity. Barriers to active transport included
inclement weather, trac and safety issues,
and living too far from town. These reasons
echo ndings from the photovoice research
that preceded the current study.18
The Southland sample presented
an interesting case with respect to
transportation mode share, as it was quite
dierent than what has most recently been
reported NZ-wide. The New Zealand Ministry
of Transport released 2015 household
travel survey statistics of young people of
comparable age with this study sample, with
regard to overall transport modal share.35 The
sample in the present study exhibited much
higher car use (as driver and as passenger),
more than three times as much walking,
more than ten times as much cycling, and
slightly more public transport use than the
age group they are included in with the
household study, as well as when compared
to the overall mode share that includes all age
groups in NZ. These ndings are inconsistent
with the New Zealand Ministry of Transport
gures that state those living in urban
areas walk more than those in rural areas,35
highlighting the need for rural descriptive
data. Other recent studies in NZ report that in
some urban areas, 50% of adolescents walked
to school and 2–19% cycled to school.36,37
It is possible that the higher use of active
transport modes among this study sample is
due to the nature of Southland’s geography,
as it is relatively at. Active transport could
also be increased among this sample
because one-third of respondents reported
living three km or less from the nearest city
centre; research shows young people nd
about three km an acceptable distance for
walking, and 12 km an acceptable distance
for cycling.38-40 This interesting modal split,
and the reasons behind it, require further
exploration.
Licence status
In this study, those without a licence reported
less physical activity, more screen time use
and less participation in activities. They
also exhibited more transport frustration,
with the exception of those with a learner’s
licence, who showed more frustration; this is
interesting and may reect their new status
as drivers still dependent on others. These
are new ndings that show while those
without a licence may face less crash risk, they
in fact face other risks, such as the physical
health risks related to sedentary behaviour
and the wellbeing-related risks that come
from decreased participation. This may
mean that in a rural area such as Southland,
the access provided by a driving licence is
important to public health, and is important
when considering that Ministry of Transport
gures indicate that the number of driving
licences issued each year had been increasing
in NZ until 2010, before dropping back to
levels of more than a decade ago.41 This
corresponds with the increase in the driving
age in NZ, from 15 to 16 years, instituted
in 2011; however, licensing numbers have
not recovered. (NZ population statistics
categorise older adolescents in the 15–24
year age bracket,42 while NZ licence statistics
categorise older adolescents separately,
in a specic 16–19 year age bracket.41 This
makes comparisons between licensing and
population dicult.) Reasons for non-
licensure have been speculated about but
rarely studied, and these new rural ndings
suggest more research is warranted.
Activity participation
Based on the number of activities these
respondents participated in, and their level
of transport frustration, the ability to access
key destinations has an impact on older
adolescents by aecting their autonomy and
independence. Thus, their transport habits
have implications for their health, because
participation in activities (and thus being
able to get to them) are related to aspects
of wellbeing.43 Screen time use was higher
than recommended, with nine out of ten
respondents reporting a screen use pattern
of more than two hours per day. The literature
suggests that screen time may be replacing
physical activity among adolescents, and that
may be the case here.44 The nding of high
amounts of screen time, in concert with lower
licensing numbers, may support the notion
found elsewhere in the literature that the use
of technology is aecting driver licensing
and driving.6,7 This could have particular
ramications for the wellbeing of this sample
of rural youth; for example, if they put o
getting their licence and live in an area with
little public or active transport infrastructure,
their ability to access important destinations
will be negatively aected.
Two-thirds of the sample reported having a
job. More than half of those with a paying job
reported driving as a mode of transport, while
just one-third of those without a job reported
driving. A recent study found that university
students transitioning into working life from
student life saw corresponding changes in
their commuting mode, which often favoured
the car. This transition is a key window of
opportunity to aect behaviour change to
active or public transport use or to support
current active or public transport habits.45 As
many in the current sample reported already
having a job, this may suggest that they have
already solidied their future transport habits.
If this is true, then less of this sample may be
driving than expected, as only half of those
with jobs reported driving. This is especially
interesting considering the semi-rural
environment of Southland, NZ.
Cycling and school uniforms
Gender dierences with regard to cycling
are well-documented in the literature,
with males cycling more, regardless of trip
purpose.46 Heesch et al.’s ndings about
barriers to cycling (weather, trac, and
safety) were mirrored in the current study
and the ndings from the photovoice study
project that informed it.18,46 The NZ school
uniform of a skirt and at shoes for females
was found to negatively aect cycling among
female adolescents in the current study and
in two other studies as well.18,36 Females
also showed a signicantly higher level of
transport frustration; this is interesting in
light of the fact that slightly more females
than males held some sort of driving licence,
which would theoretically provide them
with an additional mode of transport. Taking
into account the lower prevalence of cycling
among females, their transport frustration
and their direct comments about their
uniform being a barrier to cycling, these
ndings suggest that the compulsory school
uniform in NZ may act as a deterrent to active
transport, particularly cycling, among female
students.
Strengths and limitations
Thirty-six per cent of all students in years 12–
13 were not available on the day of the survey
or on the day of the assembly, due to being
absent from school. Their omission from
the survey means that there is the potential
for non-response bias. Fifty-one students
surveyed were 15 years of age, meaning that
they did not have access to a car licence and
therefore did not have access to all modes
of transport. While they make up a small
Older teenagers and transport
6 Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2018 Online
© 2018 The Authors
percentage of the sample, this could bias
some of the results, such as those related to
transportation mode used. It is also important
to note that as this was a self-report survey
social desirability bias could be present,
leading to over- and under-estimation in
some instances.
While research shows that the gender gap in
response rate is less for online surveys that
include email administration when compared
to mail or telephone surveys, the literature
provides little in the way of reasons behind
gender disparities in survey research.47 In
the current study, female respondents had
roughly twice as many missing values than
male respondents, which contradicts much
of the literature that reports that in addition
to having consistently lower response rates,
males are also most likely to have missing
values in surveys.47-49 This could be partially
explained by the fact that the solitary all-
boys school opted for the in-class method
of survey delivery, a method proved in
this study to have a higher response rate.
Future studies are needed to indicate what
methods might assure that the genders are
equally represented in survey research. More
completed surveys emerged during the
in-class versus the at-home method. Some
research shows that completion rates are
higher when the survey sender is known to
the respondent, thereby giving a ‘face’ to the
survey,50 and the in-class method did aord
the opportunity for the main researcher
to spend more time with the respondents.
More missing values resulted from questions
oered to respondents later in the survey, and
this can be explained by survey fatigue.51
The high response rate of this survey (71.5%)
provided sucient power for analysis in this
survey, and the results are likely generalisable
to the Southland province of NZ, because
all but one school in the area participated in
the survey. The purpose of this article is to
present details about the methods used in
this survey research and provide descriptive
data, and while these univariate results make
nal conclusions limited in this manuscript
they do pave the way for future work, as
this is preliminary data and not all survey
questions have been analysed. The survey
tool methods proved robust, and both the
English and te reo Maori versions of the survey
are available to other researchers, via the
corresponding author.
Implications for public health
The high number of respondents that
travelled by car as a passenger, particularly
female respondents, suggests future study
about this transport mode (outside of a
passenger’s eect on the driver) is desirable.
There are many public health implications
of being a passenger, such as the obvious
physical health issues surrounding crash risk,
risk behaviours and safety. Beyond that, there
are other health implications regarding this
transport mode as it relates to attachment
and wellbeing, such as the parent-child
relationship, or the peer-to-peer relationship,
as the time spent in a car during a commute
allows for time to chat. Also, more than one-
third of the current sample lived rurally; this
suggests limitations with regard to available
transport options to reach key destinations
and activities. It would be interesting to
pursue further research about the experience
of car passengers from these perspectives,
given the prevalence of this travel mode
among this sample.
While many studies report car licensing is
declining among teenagers worldwide, it
is still surprising to nd this trend in rural
NZ. It does not appear that public health
approaches are changing along with licence
rates. For example, if young people forego
their licence, measures of crash risk and
licensure may not present a comprehensive
image of health status with regard to
transport, leading to questions about current
driver’s education methods in NZ. The nding
that one-third of our study sample had not
begun the licensing process may provide a
foundation for discussions around potential
changes to driver’s education programming
to include all modes of transport, and to
include everyone, whether they drive or
not. This type of education, a multi-modal
approach known as “mobility education”, is
gaining ground in other developed countries,
such as the United States.52
Additionally, if licensing continues to drop,
more public or active transport infrastructure
may be necessary, especially in rural areas,
to promote health and wellbeing. Findings
of this study illustrate that those without a
driving licence report less physical activity,
more screen time and less participation
in activities. This implies that public
transportation in rural areas should be
better established and perhaps subsidised,
providing access so that teenagers are able
to sustain their wellbeing until they become
more autonomous travellers. The ndings of
signicant gender dierences with regard to
activity participation may have implications
for interventions, as this suggests dierent
correlates of physical activity for the genders.
Another nding from this research is that
school uniforms seem to be a deterrent to
cycling among females. Decreased active
transport could lead to decreased physical
activity and decreased overall health. The
custom of school uniforms in NZ seems to be
discouraging females from engaging in active
transport and suggests that gender-neutral
uniforms (or discontinuation of uniforms)
should be debated as a public health
matter. This nding, which is substantiated
by others,36 makes a strong case for policy
change.
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Older teenagers and transport
... The data reported here originated from a study conducted in 2015 in Southland, NZ, about the well-being, transportation, geographical location, and overall activities of choice of teenagers, in order to obtain information about the relationship between transportation and their well-being (Ward et al., 2018). The region of Southland is a coherent geographic area that combines both urban and rural transport issues. ...
... Survey development was informed by rigorous preliminary research (Ward et al., 2015), and the full questionnaire and distribution processes were piloted prior to disseminating the final survey (Ward et al., 2016). The methods of this survey are described elsewhere (Ward et al., 2018), but are discussed here briefly to provide context, prior to the findings specific to those who skateboarded. ...
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... Likewise, Watson et al. [49] and Stanley et al. [50] reported that recommended physical activity for school-aged children was not being met, especially for girls, where restrictive school uniform limited physical activity and created an explicit barrier to lunchtime play. Further, in an age of active transport policy, Hopkins et al. [51] found that school uniform style and lack of warmth was a barrier to cycling to school for some female secondary students, and Ward et al. [52] found both garment design and schools' uniform policy hampered active transport among older teenagers. There are strong indications that uniform garments and policy about which garments can be worn directly impact on students' physical health outcomes, for female students in particular. ...
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