Self-reported likelihood of speeding: The effects of attitudes, personality, and perceived legitimacy of enforcement
The positive relationship between speed and crash risk and severity is robust and well-established. While excessive speeding is typically regarded by the public as a common contributing factor in road crashes, speeding remains a common traffic infringement and an arguably socially acceptable behaviour, particularly at low levels over the speed limit. This suggests that other factors potentially contribute to this disparity between crash perceptions and actual behaviours. Previous work has described associations between perceptions of the legitimacy of speed enforcement, attitudes, and how they relate to the likelihood of speeding. This study sought to more closely examine the nature of the relationships between these variables. In total, 293 Queensland drivers participated in a study that examined how demographics, personality variables, attitudes, and perceptions of the legitimacy of enforcement contributed to drivers’ self-reported likelihood of speeding. Results suggested that positive attitudes towards speeding had the greatest impact on likelihood of speeding behaviours. Being younger and higher levels of the personality trait of extraversion were also associated with greater levels of self-reported likelihood of speeding. Attitudes were found to mediate the relationship between perceived legitimacy of speed enforcement and self-reported likelihood of speeding. A subgroup analysis of participants with positive and negative attitudes towards speeding revealed that a differential set of variables were predictive of self-reported likelihood of speeding for the two subgroups. This highlights the potential importance of attitudes in understanding the influence of perceptions of legitimacy of speed enforcement on speeding behaviour, and the need for targeted rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach to changing attitudes and ultimately behaviour. The findings of the current study help to further understand why some drivers continue to speed.