The role of personality in predicting unsafe driver behaviour in young and older adults
DisciplinePsychology : Clinical
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Traffic-related collisions represent a considerable social and economic burden on our society. In Canada, drivers aged 16 to 19 years and 70 years or older are consistently overrepresented in victim statistics. Identified risk factors for crash involvement are quite different among young and older drivers. One factor consistently linked to dangerous driving among young and middle-aged adults is personality. Surprisingly, little research has examined the role of personality characteristics in dangerous driving behaviour among older adults. Given the empirical evidence demonstrating a relationship between personality and driver safety among younger populations and the relative stability of personality throughout adulthood, the question arises as to whether personality features recognized to be related to dangerous driving in young adults are also related to dangerous driving in older adults. One hundred and fourteen active drivers ranging in age from 18 to 89 years (M = 42.30 years) were recruited. In addition to capturing self-reported information regarding driving performance and personality, cognitive and simulated driving performance data was collected on all participants. Overall, the current study suggests that personality appears to play some role in the prediction of observational driving performance among older adults. While unexpected, personality did not emerge as a significant predictor of self-reported unsafe driver behaviour. Furthermore, our results suggest that personality may not have equal effects on all groups of drivers. As this study is the first observational investigation of the role of personality in the prediction of unsafe driving behaviour among both young and older adults concurrently, further investigation is needed to provide more conclusive inferences. Future research directions are discussed.