Drivers' Ratings of Different Components of Their Own Driving Skill: A Greater Illusion of Superiority for Skills That Relate to Accident Involvement1


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    The authors thank Frank McKenna for his advice and comments. We are also grateful to Rebecca Alexander, Lyndsay Burrill, Sarah Butcher, Anna Carrick-Leaver, Andrew Clements, Amy Crawford, Hava Drummond, Angela Husband, Stephen Jarmain, Duncan Jensen, Abygael Latham, Samantha Merriman, Karla Piper, Olivia Roe, Kiernon Roche, Steven Sharman, Rebecca Shorten, Paul Smith, Emma Stevenson, and Georgina Taylor-Adriaansen for their comments and help in recruiting participants.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mark Horswill, School of Psychology, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane QLD 4072, Australia. E-mail: m.horswill@


Different components of driving skill relate to accident involvement in different ways. For instance, while hazard-perception skill has been found to predict accident involvement, vehicle-control skill has not. We found that drivers rated themselves superior to both their peers and the average driver on 18 components of driving skill (N= 181 respondents). These biases were greater for hazard-perception skills than for either vehicle-control skills or driving skill in general. Also, ratings of hazard-perception skill related to self-perceived safety after overall skill was controlled for. We suggest that although drivers appear to appreciate the role of hazard perception in safe driving, any safety benefit to be derived from this appreciation may be undermined by drivers' inflated opinions of their own hazard-perception skill. We also tested the relationship between illusory beliefs about driving skill and risk taking and looked at ways of manipulating drivers' illusory beliefs.