Date Published: 13-May-2010
New research suggests that reminding young male drivers of their own mortality through ‘fear appeals’, such as those used in many road safety campaigns, may actually increase their intentions to take driving risks.
The research was carried out by Psychology student Ms Rachel Carey and Dr Kiran Sarma at the School of Psychology, NUI Galway.
The study investigated how awareness of death among young male drivers, together with personality factors, can influence intentions to take driving risks.
Findings suggest that many young males perceive ‘fast driving’ as central to who they are and when told that they should not drive fast because of the carnage that can ensue, they rebel against the message with intent to take more driving risks. The research also showed that high impulsivity was linked to risky driving.
The research has implications for road safety campaigns that target young males through messages that portray the consequences of fast or dangerous driving. The NUI Galway study suggests that young drivers exposed to dangerous driving facts report a greater intention to drive fast after exposure than had they been presented with neutral facts.
“It would appear that young Irish males can view fast driving as part of their personal identity – who they are”, says Rachel Carey who is currently completing her final year of a BA in Psychology at NUI Galway.
“Driving is tied up in their self-concept and telling them not to drive fast because they might die, or they may kill others, is perceived as being an assault on their self-esteem. They react defensively by reporting a more marked intention to drive fast because, for many, doing so bolsters their self-esteem”, she says.
For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune
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