ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

The influence of fatalistic beliefs on risky road use behavior in developing countries

Kayani, Ahsan, King, Mark J., Fleiter, Judy

Road Safety Across Cultures


According to the World Health Organization, the death toll from road crashes in low- and middle-income nations is more than 1 million people per year, or about 90% of the global road toll. An essential prerequisite for effective road safety interventions in developing countries is an understanding of the factors contributing to risky road use, including the beliefs which influence behaviour and responses to interventions. These beliefs include fatalism, or the belief that events are predetermined and inevitable, thus affecting the interpretation of crash events and leading people to take more risks and disregard safety measures. Fatalistic beliefs are common in many developing countries with many people believing that road crashes are the result of divine discretion and, therefore, cannot be avoided, which in turn is used as a reason for not driving safely and for practising risky behaviours. Religious and cultural perspectives are becoming increasingly important in the field of risk research in public health (e.g., fatalistic attitudes which contribute towards higher risks of contracting HIV or developing cancer). However the contribution of fatalistic beliefs to risky road use has not yet been fully acknowledged, and therefore has not been taken into account when developing interventions. This paper presents a review of the literature relating to fatalism in developing countries focusing on two main perspectives: religion and culture. This review aims to develop a better understanding of issues relating to fatalism in road safety and to inform a larger research project investigating the relationship between fatalistic beliefs and risky driving.