Risky driving behavior of novice and young drivers in different affective states


Novice and young drivers are highly overrepresented in car accidents and fatalities. The main reasons for this issue are their inexperience, skill deficits and adolescent risk taking. Even though graduated licensing programs have been implemented to counteract this overrepresentation, novice and young drivers remain a high-risk group. Previous research suggests that even differences within this special age group of drivers can be found. To shed more light on young drivers’ risky driving behavior, we included young vs. very young or novice drivers (between-subjects design) in our current study. Additionally, we integrated different affective states (negative vs. happy vs. neutral; within-subjects design) which have proven to increase risky driving behavior besides age and experience. In three separate sessions for the different affective states 20 young drivers, i.e., 19 to 24 years old drivers with driving experience of more than one year, and 18 novice drivers, i.e., 17 or 18 years old drivers with less than one year of driving experience, drove in a driving simulator on two predefined routes (urban area and motorway). Results indicate that both positive and negative affective states tend to increase risky driving behavior in terms of speed and decrease awareness for speed on motorways. In urban road settings speed was more increased by a negative than a positive affective state. Acceleration was highest in a positive affective state on the urban road contrary to the motorway where the negative affective state was most influential. Additionally, risky driving behavior was measured by running yellow traffic lights. In a negative affective state participants ran significantly more yellow lights than in other affective states. With regard to group effects (young vs. novice) young drivers showed significantly more risky driving behaviors than novice ones.

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