Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Spanish Young Adults' Perceptions of the Costs and Benefits of Risky Driving Behaviors

Academic journal article The Spanish Journal of Psychology

Spanish Young Adults' Perceptions of the Costs and Benefits of Risky Driving Behaviors

Article excerpt

We used an open-ended survey to elicit Spanish young adults' perceptions of the benefits and drawbacks of speeding and not wearing a seatbelt (or helmet). Around half of the sample reported past engagement in these two risky behaviors, although forecasted engagement was low. Past and forecasted risk taking were positively correlated. Participants provided more drawbacks than benefits of each risky behavior. Drawbacks typically referred to a combination of behavioral acts and social reactions (e.g., accident, punishment) that occurred during the journey. By contrast, benefits largely referred to personal effects (e.g., save time, comfort) that occurred after the journey had ended (speeding) or during the journey (not wearing a seatbelt/helmet). These findings contribute to our theoretical understanding of young adults' risk taking on the road, and to the development of road safety programs.

Keywords: Risk perception, risk taking, speeding, seatbelt and helmet use, road safety, gender differences.

En un estudio en el que se ha empleado la metodología de encuestas, hemos analizado las percepciones que tienen los adultos jóvenes en España sobre los beneficios e inconvenientes derivados de la conducción de un coche (moto) a elevada velocidad y sin cinturón (casco). La mitad de nuestros participantes informaron que habían realizado estas conductas de riesgo, aunque sus predicciones sobre la realización de las mismas en el futuro eran menores. Estos informes y predicciones correlacionaban positivamente. Los adultos jóvenes, además, mencionaron más inconvenientes que ventajas derivadas de las conductas. Los inconvenientes generalmente hacían referencia a una combinación de conductas y reacciones sociales que ocurrirían durante el trayecto (por ejemplo, accidentes y sanciones). Por el contrario, los beneficios hacían referencia a consecuencias personales que ocurrirían cuando el trayecto hubiera concluido o durante el mismo (por ejemplo, ahorro de tiempo y comodidad). Estos resultados contribuyen a nuestra comprensión de las conductas de riesgo de los adultos jóvenes en la carretera, y pueden favorecer el desarrollo de programas de prevención.

Palabras clave: percepción de riesgo, conducta de riesgo, velocidad, uso del cinturón de seguridad y del casco, seguridad vial, diferencias de género.

Young people engage in a variety of risky behaviors (DiClemente, Hansen, & Ponton, 1996; Garcia-Retamero & Cokely, 2011) that can have adverse consequences for their health, safety and wellbeing (Romer, 2003). Evidence also suggests that there are gender differences in risk taking such that males are more likely to take risks than females (see Byrnes, Miller, & Schafer, 1999). Risky driving behaviors present an opportunity to study young peoples' perceptions of the costs and benefits of risk taking, as well as gender differences in risk taking. Indeed, young people are overrepresented in the injuries and fatalities associated with driving. Although young males are more likely than females to be involved in accidents, evidence suggests that female involvement in fatal accidents is increasing (Romano, Kelley-Baker, & Voas, 2008). Beyond the immediate consequences of risky driving for young people themselves, there are consequences for the public and economic sectors that are responsible for health and insurance costs.

Our study focuses on Spain where the speed limit is 120 km, and wearing and wearing a seatbelt in a car or helmet on a motorbike are required by law. Statistics compiled by insurance agencies suggest that from 31% to 33% of young people aged between 18 and 24 go over the speed limit, and 25% do not use seatbelt/helmet (Linea directa, 2011). Car or motorbike accidents were the most likely cause of death in young people aged 15 to 24 in 2007 (Dirección General de Tráfico, 2008d, 2008e). Indeed, although this age group represents 11% of the Spanish population, they represent 18% of those who died in a car/motorbike accident, and 24% of those who were severely injured. …

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