ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Personality Characteristics and Attitudes of Young Traffic Offenders

Wundersitz, Lisa, Burns, Nick (Peer reviewed)

Young Drivers


In Australia and other developed countries, young drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal and injurious crashes than older, more experienced drivers. The aim of the present study was to identify the characteristics and motivations of a group of younger drivers known to engage in risky driving. The characteristics of young drivers, aged 16 to 24 years, who were detected committing one or more traffic offences by police (N=336) were compared with a group of drivers in the same age group, university students (N=270). The offenders and students were administered a questionnaire that measured a wide variety of personality characteristics and driving-related attitudes. Driving records were also examined. The profile of characteristics for the offender group, a high-risk group, indicated that they were well-adjusted and generally did not differ greatly from the students. However, there were notable differences on some measures related to aggression. Young offenders reported higher levels of driving-related aggression than students, and young male offenders reported higher levels of driving to reduce tension than did young male students. In addition, offenders in general had less safety-oriented attitudes towards road safety issues than students. Female offenders also reported higher alcohol use than female students. These findings have implications for the tailoring of interventions to the specific motivations of young traffic offenders.