Academic journal article Human Factors

Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement and Moving Violations: Convergence of Self-Report and Archival Data

Academic journal article Human Factors

Motor Vehicle Crash Involvement and Moving Violations: Convergence of Self-Report and Archival Data

Article excerpt

In the crash involvement literature, it is generally assumed that archival and other "objective" criterion data are superior to self-reports of crash involvement. Using 394 participants (mean age = 36.23 years), the present study assessed the convergence of archival and self-report measures of motor vehicle crash involvement and moving violations. We also sought to determine whether predictor/criterion relationships would vary as a function of criterion type (i.e., archival vs. self-report), and if a combination of both criteria would result in better prediction than would either by itself. The degree of agreement between the two criterion sources was low, with participants self-reporting more crashes and tickets than were found in their state records. Different predictor/criterion relationships were also found for the two criterion types; stronger effects were obtained for self-report data. Combining the two criteria did not result in relationships stronger than those obtained for self-reports alone. Our fin dings suggest that self-report data are not inherently inferior to archival data and, furthermore, that the two sources of data cannot be used interchangeably. Actual or potential applications include choosing the appropriate criterion to use, which, as the finding of this study reveals, may depend on the purpose of the investigation.

INTRODUCTION

In the crash involvement literature, it is generally assumed that archival and other "objective" criterion data are superior to self-reports of crash involvement. Indeed, it has been our experience that the use of self-reports is not viewed very favorably by editors and reviewers, who generally request the use of more objective criteria. Given the trade-offs between using archival data and using self-report data in motor vehicle crash research, few studies have investigated the convergence of these two sources of criterion data. Consequently, the objective of the present study was to assess the convergence of archival and self-report measures of motor vehicle crash involvement and moving violations. We also sought to determine whether predictor/criterion relationships would vary as a function of criterion type (i.e., archival vs. self-report) and if a combination of both criteria would result in better prediction than would either by itself.

There is a reasonably large body of research on the prediction of motor vehicle crash involvement from an individual difference perspective (see Arthur, Barrett, & Alexander, 1991; Elander, West, & French, 1993; and Guastello, 1993 for reviews). In the research, self-report accounts of crash involvement have been the most commonly used criterion (Ball & Owsley, 1991); several reasons may explain their prevalence. For example, self-report data are relatively easy to collect, and they allow us to canvass all crashes (Elander et al., 1993). Nonetheless, there are a number of potential methodological problems associated with their use. Specifically, asking drivers to report the crashes in which they have been involved allows for the possibility of both intentional and unintentional misrepresentations (see Elander et al., 1993; Harano, Peck, & McBride, 1975). For instance, in a study cited by Loftus (1993), when 590 persons known to have been in injury-producing crashes were interviewed a year after the crashes o ccurred, approximately 14% of them did not remember the crashes.

Archival data are an obvious alternative to self-reports. They are generally considered to be more objective, and they address the previously mentioned self-report problems. However, information acquired from state law enforcement agencies and insurance companies may also be flawed. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (1991) found that only 40% of vehicle crashes that should have been available to auto insurers appeared in publicly available records. Hakkert and Hauer (1988) also note that hospitals and insurance companies have knowledge of more crash victims than do the police. …

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