The influence of sensitivity to reward and punishment, propensity for sensation seeking, depression, and anxiety on the risky behaviour of novice drivers: a path model.

Research paper by Bridie B Scott-Parker, Barry B Watson, Mark J MJ King, Melissa K MK Hyde

Indexed on: 18 Apr '12Published on: 18 Apr '12Published in: British journal of psychology (London, England : 1953)


Young novice drivers are significantly more likely to be killed or injured in car crashes than older, experienced drivers. Graduated driver licensing (GDL), which allows the novice to gain driving experience under less-risky circumstances, has resulted in reduced crash incidence; however, the driver's psychological traits are ignored. This paper explores the relationships between gender, age, anxiety, depression, sensitivity to reward and punishment, sensation-seeking propensity, and risky driving. Participants were 761 young drivers aged 17-24 (M=19.00, SD=1.56) with a Provisional (intermediate) driver's licence who completed an online survey comprising socio-demographic questions, the Impulsive Sensation Seeking Scale, Kessler's Psychological Distress Scale, the Sensitivity to Punishment and Sensitivity to Reward Questionnaire, and the Behaviour of Young Novice Drivers Scale. Path analysis revealed depression, reward sensitivity, and sensation-seeking propensity predicted the self-reported risky behaviour of the young novice drivers. Gender was a moderator; and the anxiety level of female drivers also influenced their risky driving. Interventions do not directly consider the role of rewards and sensation seeking, or the young person's mental health. An approach that does take these variables into account may contribute to improved road safety outcomes for both young and older road users.