The present study aimed to determine the psychosocial aspects affecting traffic accidents in boys aged 18 to 24. It also aimed to advance theoretical insight and obtain practical implications for designing a community-based model for describing psychosocial factors of car accidents. To answer the question concerning the share of personality factor, mental health, self-esteem, aggression, social and demographic factors in driving behavior aspects (Manchester) and traffic accidents among 18 to 24 year-old boys, and the question concerning what percentage of driving violations these factors predict, the method of multiple regression analysis (step-wise) was used. Finally, the variables, which were able to predict traffic accidents and driving behaviors, were entered into the structural equation model and examined in terms of fit indices.
Considering driving behavior, the findings indicate that personality trait of conscientiousness with β coefficient of 0.12 is able to predict different mistakes and intentional violations in the sample population. In addition, depressed mood and failure schema with relevant coefficients of 0.21 and 0.28 respectively, could predict violations and mistakes in boys. Amongst social factors, perception of police laws with β coefficient of 0.30, and significance level of 0.01, could predict violations and mistakes in driving.
Being duty-oriented is an aspect of personality, which considers active processes of planning, organizing, tracking and follow-up of thoughts in an individual. The findings of the present study are consistent with previous reports in that the higher the scores of responsibility, the higher the conscientiousness of individuals in driving; hence, the less the violations (
16). In a study done by Gharaei et al. ( 17), the results showed that the drivers with such records, had higher scores in terms of neuroticism and lower scores in terms of flexibility, compatibility and sense of responsibility. Amongst the mental health aspects, depression is a type of negative emotion, which might negatively affect the driver’s interpretation of the traffic environment, his/her driving behaviors and concentration, so that he/she cannot react and behave properly in the required circumstances. The drivers, who obtained high scores in non-normality, had more traffic accidents or higher possibility of having accidents. According to the results of Gharaei et al.’s study ( 17), the mean scores of paranoid thoughts, obsession and compulsion, sensitivity in interpersonal relationship and depression of both professional and nonprofessional groups who had road accidents, were higher than other aspects. A failure schema means the belief in an individual’s failure. It also means that failure is inevitable for the individual. It seems that parenting styles and developing incompatible schemas can affect the occurrence of accidents as well as risky driving behaviors, by influencing other variables like aggression, self-esteem and personality characteristics. As the results of previous studies show, there is a relationship between democratic parenting styles and aggressive behaviors in a way that more democratic parenting styles, reduces aggressive behaviors. However, easy-going or even despotic styles can increase aggression in youth ( 18). As mentioned earlier, aggression is one of the strong predictors of car accidents in boys. However hostility did not emerge as a significant predictor of violation behavior in this study. A previous study suggests that drivers who believe outcomes are controlled by external forces (external LOC, e.g. events controlled by fate and not self), may be less likely to change behavior in response to outcomes than those with internal LOC, who perceive outcomes to be dependent on their own skills, efforts or behaviors ( 19).
Regarding car accidents, three factors including perception of police laws, driving style, and aggression were able to predict boys’ traffic accidents with β coefficients of 0.18, 0.17 and 0.13, respectively. The strongest predictor of accidents was perception of police laws. These results were consistent with the results of Al-Hemoud et al.’s study in which the factor of ‘perception of police laws’ was the strongest predictor of accidents among other five factors (including social factors, life stresses, driving style, perception of police commands and driving stresses). Factor of driving style, one of the subscales of lifestyle questionnaire in Al-Hemoud et al.’s study, was also a predictor of boys’ driving accidents. The results of Gharaei et al. (
17) study suggested that driver’s physical status, their emotional status while driving, and the specifications of the vehicle are in direct relationship with the driver’s personality, environmental conditions, police traffic measures, cultural aspects of the community, quality of the training an individual receives in driving institutions and the driver’s experience. The findings of different studies on the relationship between aggression and traffic accidents indicates that aggression and violence can play an effective role in traffic accidents ( 20).
On the other hand, major social factors such as the number of years an individual has been driving cars, use of drugs and alcohol, having driver’s license, and record of imprisonment or crime, are predictors of boys’ car accidents. Factors like record of imprisonment and crime, and use of drugs and alcohol are predictors of driving behavior dimensions among individuals in a society.
The results of the present research indicate that having a driver’s license can negatively predict car accidents, in a way that not having a driver’s license can increase traffic accidents and vice versa. The number of years one has been driving also affects the number of accidents among the sample population. The more driving-experience of the individual, the less the number of violations, hence accidents. In a self-report study on the ability of driving, the results suggested that driving experience, which is measured by the number of years passed from obtaining a driver’s license, is a strong predictor of effective use of safe behaviors on the road (
Fastening seat belts could also negatively predict the accidents. Fastening seat belts can decrease car accidents, mistakes, and violations; on the contrary, not fastening seat belts can increase risks of car accidents. The results of Clarke et al. (
22) study suggested that in all car accidents, no one had used seat belts and safety helmets.
Neglect, which includes distraction from the driving task, is one of the factors contributing to car accidents in young and beginner drivers (
23). An example is neglecting safety distance in the traffic or factors such as slippery roads due to rain. Police reports regarding accidents caused by neglect or lack of attention are very complex, however, according to reports, 32% of 16-year-old boys’ accidents are caused by neglect ( 24).
In general, as the results of this study and other studies in this area show, different factors contribute to different driving behaviors and accidents. The broad scope of these factors links accidents with other social issues and damages. As indicated, use of drugs or alcohol as well as having imprisonment or crime records also contributes to car accidents. Psychological problems which are prevalent in today’s society, including aggression, depression and frustration, have had their effects on the issue. Another factor is lack of public awareness and education on these social issues, which play a major role in this regard. Therefore, as indicated, many factors have domino effects on different social damages and problems. Accordingly, in order to lower traffic accidents and modify driving culture we have to consider multi-faceted strategies and apply them properly.
Some of the models were based on sub scales while the number of cases was not sufficient for running the models. This can be considered as the most important weakness of this research. Hence, the findings of the research rely on the run models. Some of the parenting schemes like self-reliance and attention were not significant.