Driving to the Conditions: Driver Behaviour in Youths
Young drivers under 25 years are overrepresented in road fatalities and serious injuries worldwide. Past studies have identified that being male and having higher levels of sensation seeking, risk-taking, and self-perceived skill contribute to riskier youth driving behaviours. However, evidence for these risk factors derives from research on driving behaviours in optimal weather conditions. The current study had two primary aims: (1) to examine how drivers adjust their average speed to suit the environmental condition and, (2) to examine the extent to which various, widely-used self-report measures (including the Driver Behaviour Questionnaire, Dula Dangerous Driving Index, Driver Skill Inventory, and Sensation Seeking) can predict average speed behaviour along Straight and Curve segments in sunny and foggy weather conditions. The reliability of performance measures in the simulator over time was also explored. Sixty-nine participants were administered the self-report measures (Phase One) and completed four experimental simulator drives across a further two sessions, conducted at least four days apart (Phase Two). These simulator drives required participants to navigate Straight and Curve tasks at varying speed limits (50 km/h, 80 km/h, and 100 km/h) under both sunny and foggy conditions. Results showed that average speed behaviour was reliable over time and participants reduced their speed in foggy conditions. Although known risk factors predicted average speed in sunny conditions, a different set of risk factors predicted driver behaviours when driving in poor visibility, thereby questioning the generalisability of risk factors contributing to dangerous driving across conditions. Furthermore, while sensation seeking explained variance in behaviours in optimal weather, mental lapses predicted faster average speeds in higher speed zones in foggy conditions. Overall, these findings indicate that when creating effective road safety strategies to reduce the likelihood of road fatalities and serious injuries in young drivers, multiple factors beyond the known risk factors should be considered.
Advisor: Beanland, Vanessa; Brookland, Rebecca
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Driver behaviour; Sensation Seeking; Risk taking; Driving simulator; Youths; Driver Behaviour Questionnaire; Dangerous driving; Dula Dangerous Driving Index; Driver Skill Inventory; Fog; Curves; Speed
Research Type: Thesis