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The Beliefs Which Influence Young Males to Speed and Strategies to Slow Them Down: Informing the Content of Antispeeding Messages


Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: Dr Ioni Lewis, Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety—Queensland (CARRS-Q), Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4059, Australia (


Young male drivers are overrepresented in road-related fatalities. Speeding represents a pervasive and significant contributor to road trauma. Antispeeding messages represent a long-standing strategy aimed at discouraging drivers from speeding. These messages, however, have not always achieved their persuasive objectives that may be due, in part, to them not always targeting the most salient beliefs underpinning the speeding behavior of particular driver groups. The current study elicited key beliefs underpinning speeding behavior as well as strategies used to avoid speeding, using a well-validated belief-based model, the theory of planned behavior, and in-depth qualitative methods. To obtain the most comprehensive understanding about the salient beliefs and strategies of young male drivers, how such beliefs and strategies compared with those of drivers of varying ages and gender, was also explored. Overall, 75 males and females (aged 17–25 or 30–55) participated in group discussions. The findings revealed beliefs that were particularly relevant to young males and that would likely represent key foci for developing message content. For instance, the need to feel in control and the desire to experience positive affect when driving were salient advantages; while infringements were a salient disadvantage and, in particular, the loss of points and the implications associated with potential license loss as opposed to the monetary (fine) loss (behavioral beliefs). For normative influences, young males appeared to hold notable misperceptions (compared with other drivers, such as young females); for instance, young males believed that females/girlfriends were impressed by their speeding. In the case of control beliefs, the findings revealed low perceptions of control with respect to being able to not speed and a belief that something “extraordinary” would need to happen for a young male driver to lose control of their vehicle while speeding. The practical implications of the findings, in terms of providing suggestions for devising the content of antispeeding messages, are discussed.