A systematic investigation of relevant predictors, moderations and mediations for intention to speed, drink-drive, drive while fatigued, and not wear a seat belt, amongst young NSW drivers

by Ralston Fernandes

Institution: University of New South Wales
Department: Psychology
Year: 2007
Keywords: Young Drivers; Risky Driving; Perceived Risk; Motivation
Record ID: 1031808
Full text PDF: http://handle.unsw.edu.au/1959.4/42933


Road trauma is recognized as a major public health problem worldwide (particularly for younger drivers), and risky driving has been identified as an important contributor to road crashes. It is often assumed that similar factors influence all risky driving behaviours, although direct and systematic examination of the differences between risky driving behaviours in terms of precipitating factors is lacking. The present thesis sought to undertake a systematic investigation of relevant factors in the prediction of four key risky driving behaviours (speeding, drink-driving, driving while fatigued, and not wearing seat belts). Four versions of a Risky Driving Questionnaire were developed to assess beliefs, personality factors and behavioural intentions, in relation to each of the four behaviours. Four versions of the Implicit Association Test were developed to assess attitudes toward each of the four behaviours, without reliance on self-report (in terms of the relative strength of pairs of associations). Data were collected from a student sample (N=215: Study 1), as well as urban (N=587) and rural (N=422) general population samples (Study 2), and regression models were examined for each of the four behaviours, with interaction terms to assess moderations involving perceived risk. Mediations involving gender were also assessed. Results indicate that different risky driving behaviours are predicted by different factors. For example, in the urban sample, speeding was predicted by driver anger and illusory invulnerability, drink driving was predicted by peer influence, driving while fatigued was predicted by the perceived benefits of not driving while fatigued, and not wearing seat belts was predicted by the (sensation seeking x illusory invulnerability) interaction. Results also suggest that different predictors of risky driving behaviours are relevant for different driver populations. For example, speeding was predicted by authority rebellion in the urban sample, and by sensation seeking in the rural sample. Observed moderations of perceived risk suggest that relationships between perceived risk and risky driving may differ for males versus females, and for low versus high sensation seekers. Findings suggest that future road safety interventions should be based on research of the determinants of individual risky driving behaviours, and in specific driver populations.