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The Role of Driver Behavior, Skills, and Personality Traits in Traffic Accidents

Nebi Sümer, Türker Özkan
2002; 17(50):1-22

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Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in Turkey. Past research on traffic psychology has clearly revealed that human factors play the chief role in road crashes, and driver behaviors, skills, risk-oriented personality traits, and psychological symptoms are the specific contributors of these factors. The present study was conducted to examine the role of driver behaviors, skills, some personality constructs, and psychological symptoms in predicting accidents and negative driver outcomes. A total of 321 male drivers (41 automobile and 280 professional: taxicab, bus, heavy vehicle, and minibus drivers) were involved in the study and filled out a survey consisting the measures of demographic characteristics, accident history, driver behaviors (violations and errors), skills (driving and safety skills), certain personality traits (sensation seeking, aggression), and psychological symptom checklist. The results of the analyses comparing five drive types demonstrated no significant differences with the exception of safety skills and sensation seeking. Comparison of the drivers with no accidents and multiple accidents revealed that those with multiple crashes reported higher levels of violations and errors and lower levels of safety skills and also had higher sensation seeking, aggression, and psychological symptoms than accident-free drivers. The results of the sequential regression analysis indicated that violation was the only predictor of accident rate after controlling age and exposure to driving. Finally, psychological symptoms were the strongest predictor of traffic violations. Findings were discussed emphasizing the critical impact of driver violations, safety skills, and certain personality constructs, such as sensation seeking, in creating "accident proneness", and suggestions were made for future studies.

Keywords: Traffic violations, errors, driver skills, sensation seeking, psychological symptoms