ROAD USER BEHAVIOR AND TRAFFIC SAFETY: TOWARD A RATIONAL STRATEGY OF ACCIDENT PREVENTION

The question of road user behavior in the role of traffic safety is introduced by a case history. THe subject demonstrated a low tolerance for risk, while at the same time demonstrating correct driving practices as far as speed limits and obedience to traffic signals. This poses an interesting traffic educational paradox: behavior in a common manner so that a driver's acts become more predictable to other road users versus road safety advantages if the average road user were characterized by a low tolerance for risk. Publications in the area of road user psychology show a large number of extremely diversified theories, each focusing on a different cause for traffic accidents. However, most theories are related to either the: transient state of the organism, such as fatigue, alcohol, drugs; or permanent state of the organism, including driver experience, age, sex, and personality. Two more categories, mental load and risk taking behavior, as well as social influence and social imitation, make up the bulk of the reamianing theories. The crucial role played by the tolerance for risk in the causation of accidents is explained through an attempt to integrate these existing theories of driver behavior in a comprehensive model. The model views the causation of accidents as a homeostatically controlled process. According to the model, a driver perceives at any moment of his trip, a certain amount of risk, which he compares with the amount of risk that he is prepared to accept. To the extent that the amount of perceived risk is greater than the amount of risk tolerated, he will try to apply a greater amount of caution. Therefore, the real amount of caution depends upon the driver's ability to make the correct decisions and to execute them in an adequate manner. Design of such a system, however, is not an easy matter, due to the fact that as drivers become aware of the reduction in the number of accidents after some time, the amount of generally perceived risk likewise diminishes. Frequency of accidents, therefore, will increase until the old equilibrium is re-established. /Author/SRIS/

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Presented at the Annual Convention of the Dutch Road Safety League in the RAI Conference Center, Amsterdam, 26, April 1975.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Department of Transport, Canada

    Road and Motor Vehicle Traffic Safety Branch
    Ottawa, ONo K1A 0N5,   Canada 
  • Authors:
    • Wilde, G J
  • Publication Date: 1975-4

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 42 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00153868
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Safety Council Safety Research Info Serv
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 28 1977 12:00AM