The Role of Executive Function, Personality and Attitudes to Risks in Explaining Self-Reported Driving Behaviour in Adolescent and Adult Male Drivers

Young drivers show high levels of risky driving and are over-represented in motor vehicle crash statistics world-wide. As well as personality and attitudinal factors, high rates of risk taking during adolescence may be due to poorly developed executive functions, a result of the slow maturation of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. This study was undertaken to investigate the roles of executive function, personality, attitudes to risk in relation to self-reported driving behavior. Adolescent (n = 46, age 16–18 years) and adult (n = 32, 25 years and over) male drivers completed a battery of neuropsychological tests to assess general cognitive ability and executive function, and questionnaires to assess driving history, personality, attitudes to physical and psychological risk as well as questionnaires of self-reported driving behavior (Driver risk taking and Driver Attitude Questionnaire, DAQ). The adolescent drivers showed poorer executive function, higher levels of impulsivity and risk-taking, lower levels of agreeableness and conscientiousness compared to adult drivers. Regression analyses revealed that attitudes to risk, agreeableness and working memory made unique significant contributions in explaining self-reported driving behavior. Interestingly though, better working memory was associated with higher levels of self-reported risky driving and more accepting attitudes to risky driving. Together the findings suggest that some aspects of executive function, personality, and attitudes to risk may help to explain self-reported driving behavior. Whether these findings are relevant to female drivers and apply to on-road driving behavior should be the focus of future studies.


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  • Accession Number: 01597732
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 14 2016 10:41AM