What Do People Think About the Risks of Driving? Implications for Traffic Safety Interventions1

Authors

  • Bernard Guerin

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Waikuto
      Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bernard Guerin, Department of Psychology, University of Waikato, Private Bag, Hamilton, New Zealand.
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  • 1

    This work was supported by a grant from the New Zealand Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. I wish to thank the 18.332 class of 1992 for their help in collecting some of the data and anonymous reviewers for helpful comments.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Bernard Guerin, Department of Psychology, University of Waikato, Private Bag, Hamilton, New Zealand.

Abstract

Two studies found that people generally think of themselves as better than average drivers. Both older and younger people rated themselves slightly better than peers, with the younger people rating their peers as the worst drivers but rating themselves as if they did not belong to this group. University students rated their peers as being more similar to themselves than did nonuniversity younger people. A factor analysis found five dimensions along which people thought about driving risks: environmental and road conditions, unexpected events, driver problems, necessary or unavoidable driving risks, and voluntary driving risks. Speeding was thought of in two ways, as both an unavoidable driving risk and as a voluntary risk. Differences were found between general and specific questions, and a theoretical framework for exploring these in future research was proposed predicts differences between a situational or dispositional focus. The implications of the results for traffic safety interventions were drawn out, and specific recommendations, made for targeting such interventions.

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