Hans and Sybil Eysenck
2nd Annual Scholarship (April 2001)
made to Dr. Timo Lajunen from Finland
on the subject of The role of personality factors in aberrant driving behaviour and in traffic accident causation
Report Abstract (326 words):
The objective of this study was to investigate the relationship between personality characteristics, self-reported driver behaviour (driver errors and violations) and road traffic accident involvement. It was supposed that personality factors would mainly be related to accident involvement via driving violations, i.e. deliberate deviation from safe driving. Three data sets were collected.
The first data set consisted of survey answers of 273 Turkish professional drivers who completed questionnaires including the Inventory of Sensation Seeking (ISS; Arnett, 1994), the Brief Symptom Inventory (Degoratis, 1992), the Driver Behaviour Questionnaire (DBQ; Reason et al., 1990), and questions about their accident history and driving experience. The second data set was collected among 230 young drivers (university students). The questionnaires included the DBQ, the Sensation Seeking Scale (SSS; Zuckerman, 1979), and background information (active and passive accidents, driving experience, etc.). In the third study, 172 university students completed forms including the DBQ, the ISS, the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1991/1996) and questions about their accident involvement (active and passive accidents) and driving experience.
Reliability analysis indicated that both the sensation seeking scales (SSS and ISS) had low internal consistency whereas the other scale scores showed satisfactory reliability. Effects of driving behaviour and personality factors on number of accidents were analysed by using regression analysis with a Poisson or negative binomial distribution.
The main results were rather consistent in all three data sets. Ordinary non-aggressive driving violations (e.g. speeding, dangerous overtaking, tailgating) predicted accidents in all three data sets. Effects of personality factors on accident involvement were mostly mediated by ordinary (studies 1,2 and 3) or aggressive (study 3) driving violations, although some personality factors also had a direct effect on the number of accidents. Driver errors did not predict the number of accidents. These results support the earlier findings that driving style rather than driving skills determine how safe a driver is. Hence, personality characteristics and attitudes influence driving style which, in turn, is related to accident liability.