Perception of Road Accident Causes

The objective of this research was to understand drivers’ understanding about causes of road accidents. Specifically the study sought to develop and validate a theoretical two-dimensional model on prevalence and risk to answer three questions: (1) How do European drivers perceive the importance of several causes of road accidents? (2) Are there important differences in perceptions between member states? (3) Do these perceptions reflect the real significance of road accident causes? Data were collected from 23 countries, based on representative national samples of at least 1000 respondents each (n = 24,372). In-person interviews with fully licensed, active car drivers were conducted using a questionnaire, which asked respondents to rate 15 causes of road accidents, each using a six-point ordinal scale. Their answers were analyzed by calculating Kendall's tau for each pair of items to form lower triangle similarity matrices per country and for Europe as a whole. These matrices were then used as the input files for an individual difference scaling to draw a perceptual map of the 15 items involved. The hypothesized model on risk and prevalence fit the data well and enabled the researchers to answer the aforementioned three questions. The analysis produced a subject space, which enabled evaluation of the model fit and a group space, which enabled interpretation of the two-dimensional space. The subject space of the model revealed that there are no relevant differences between the 23 countries. The group space of the model comprises four quadrants, each containing several items (high perceived risk/low perceived prevalence items; high perceived risk/high perceived prevalence items; low perceived risk/high perceived prevalence items and low perceived risk/low perceived prevalence items). The article discusses driver perceptions of the questionnaire items termed “driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and medicines” and “driving using a handheld or hands-free mobile phone” with regard to their real significance in causing road accidents. To conclude, individual difference scaling offers some promising possibilities to study drivers’ perception of road accident causes. Comparing respondents’ perceptions with objective data about these causes may serve as a meaningful basis to enhance traffic safety by means of such interventions as education.


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  • Accession Number: 01013423
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Dec 15 2005 3:24PM