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Social influences on drivers in China.

Fleiter, J J, Watson, B, Lennon, A, King, M, Shi, K (Peer reviewed)

General

2011

China is one of Asia’s many rapidly motorising nations and recent increases in private vehicle ownership have been coupled with an escalation in novice drivers. Several pieces of road safety legislation have been introduced in recent decades in China. While managing the legal aspects of road use is important, social influences on driver behaviour may offer alternative avenues to alter behaviour, particularly in a culture where such factors carry high importance.

This paper reports qualitative research with Beijing drivers to investigate social influence factors that have, to date, received little attention in the literature. Findings indicated that family members, friends and driving instructors appear influential on driver behaviour and that some newly licensed drivers seek additional assistance to facilitate the transition from learning to drive in a controlled environment to driving on the road in complex conditions. Strategies to avoid detection and penalties for inappropriate road use were described, many of which involved the use of a third person. These findings indicate potential barriers to implementing effective traffic enforcement and highlight the importance of understanding culturally specific social factors relating to driver behaviour.