Drivers’ perceptions of risk on rural New Zealand roads
Accurate perception of asd risks associated with different types of road by drivers has the potential to improve driver safety and decrease the number of crashes and serious injuries on New Zealand roads. This research used multiple methods to investigate drivers’ perceptions of risk across a range of rural New Zealand roads. One group of participants were shown videos of rural roads (filmed from the drivers’ perspective in a vehicle driven at a safe speed) and provided risk ratings at points of interest. A second group drove the same set of roads (accompanied by a research assistant) and provided verbal risk ratings when prompted. The third group provided ratings at the same points when travelling as a passenger in the vehicle (driven at a safe speed). Overall, participants who drove the road rated the risk as significantly lower compared to those travelling as a passenger or viewing video footage of the same roads. These findings suggest that the degree of control of the vehicle plays a significant role in how perceptions of driving risk are formed and the degree of risk experienced. Whether this is related to being able to control the speed of the vehicle or a more general confidence in one’s own driving ability is, as yet, unclear. It does suggest, however, that when drivers get behind the wheel they may significantly underestimate the risks associated with rural New Zealand roads.