It wasn’t my fault: does crash culpability improve predictive outcomes in self-reported road safety research?
Introduction: Research that has focused on the ability of self-report assessment tools to predict crash outcomes has proven to be mixed. As a result, researchers are now beginning to explore whether examining culpability of crash involvement can subsequently improve this predictive efficacy. This study reports on the application of the Manchester Driver Behaviour Questionnaire (DBQ) to predict crash involvement among a sample of general Queensland motorists, and in particular, whether including a crash culpability variable improves predictive outcomes. Surveys were completed by 249 general motorists on-line or via a pen-and-paper format. Results: Consistent with previous research, a factor analysis revealed a three factor solution for the DBQ accounting for 40.5% of the overall variance. However, multivariate analysis using the DBQ revealed little predictive ability of the tool to predict crash involvement. Rather, exposure to the road was found to be predictive of crashes. An analysis into culpability revealed 88 participants reported being “at fault” for their most recent crash. Corresponding between and multi-variate analyses that included the culpability variable did not result in an improvement in identifying those involved in crashes. Conclusions: While preliminary, the results suggest that including crash culpability may not necessarily improve predictive outcomes in self-report methodologies, although it is noted the current small sample size may also have had a deleterious effect on this endeavour. This paper also outlines the need for future research (which also includes official crash and offence outcomes) to better understand the actual contribution of self-report assessment tools, and culpability variables, to understanding and improving road safety.