Attitudes, risk behaviour and accident involvement among Norwegian drivers

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Hilde Iversen
Torbjörn Rundmo

Increasingly, professionals on safety and risk issues are becoming aware that there are occasions when people's attitudes and behaviour towards risk and hazard have to be changed. This paper attempts to identify determinants of risk behaviour and accident involvement in traffic, with the aim of developing effective accident countermeasures. Several studies have related risk behaviour to traffic safety issues like collision risk and accident rates, but the relationship between accidents and preceding behaviour is still largely unclear. Attitude change is often hypothesized as a way of changing road user behaviour. However, correspondence between measured dispositions and overt actions is not a simple matter, and more research is needed addressing this issue in road safety research. Examination of associations between attitudes, risk behaviour and involvement in near misses and accidents can help develop more adjusted and effective traffic safety interventions by early identification of those more likely to be involved in accidents. A major challenge is to find measures that influence the groups of high-risk recipients more efficiently. This study is based on a self-completion questionnaire survey carried out among a representative sample of Norwegian drivers. The sample was representative of the Norwegian public and collected in year 2000 and 2001 (n=2614), with a 50% response rate. The questionnaire included measures of attitudes, risk behaviour, reactions from others and involvement in near accidents and accidents. Results showed that attitudes towards traffic safety issues were associated with involvement in risk behaviour in traffic, especially attitudes towards rule violations and speeding. In addition, risk behaviour had a direct effect on the reactions drivers receive from others in traffic and both involvement in near misses andaccidents. Near misses and especially reactions from others influenced accident involvement directly.

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