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Can personality characteristics and attitudes predict risky driving behaviour among young drivers?

Wundersitz, L, Burns, N (Peer reviewed)

Driver Risk & Behaviour

ACRS conference 2008

A greater understanding of the personality factors and attitudes associated with risky young driver behaviour will assist in matching interventions to the individual needs of these drivers. There is an increasing body of research investigating relationships between these factors and the consequences of risky driving (i.e. traffic offences and crashes) among young drivers. However, there are a number of limitations associated with this research. Most studies are cross-sectional or retrospective in design, are based on self-reported driver behaviour outcomes, and do not adequately consider the role of driving exposure. The aim of this study was to identify personality characteristics and attitudes associated with young drivers caught engaging in risky driving behaviour using a prospective design and official driver records. This study also investigated whether any of these factors predicted different levels of driving exposure, defined as number of kilometres driven per year.

A total of 208 young drivers (aged 16 to 24 years) detected committing one or more traffic offences completed a questionnaire to determine whether personality characteristics and driving-related attitudes could predict traffic offences committed during the following year. The results indicated that a risky driving style and the use of driving to reduce tension were associated with a greater number of kilometres driven per year. Kilometres driven per year and the use of driving to reduce tension made independent contributions to the prediction of risky driving behaviour. The implications of these findings are discussed in terms of how interventions might be tailored to the needs of these young drivers.