Attitudes towards traffic safety, risk perception and behaviour among young Norwegian drivers and their passengers

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Torbjörn Rundmo
Paal Ulleberg

During the last few years the frequency of fatal injuries caused by traffic accidents has increased in Norway and this is a threat to public health. Young drivers and their passengers are high-risk groups and accidents amongst adolescents reduce the years of living more than most other threats to human health. Therefore, the Norwegian Authorities of Public Roads prioritize to find measures aimed at reducing the number of health injuries caused by adolescent risk taking in traffic. The present paper shows some results from a study aimed at evaluating the effects of several measures implemented to promote adolescent safe driving behavior in two Norwegian counties. A total of about 4376 respondents have responded to a self-completion questionnaire, including adolescents in the two counties as well as respondents from other counties not taking part in the intervention program. The response rate was 93%. There was a significant change in self-report behavior, attitudes towards traffic safety and risk perception when the group of respondents replying to the questionnaire before exposed to the measures was compared to those who did so after. The number of accidents is also reduced to a greater extent in the two participating counties compared to other Norwegian counties. Multivariate analyses showed significant associations between risk perception, risk-taking attitudes and driving behavior. Model tests showed that assessments of the probability of traffic accidents and concern were insignificant predictors for self-report risk behavior. Worry and emotional reactions related to traffic hazards significantly predicted behavior. Sensation seeking, normlessness, and indifference with regard to traffic safety affected emotion-based risk perception.

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