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Risky Driving and Adolescent Problem Behavior: An Extension of Problem-Behavior Theory

NCJ Number
Alcohol Drugs and Driving Volume: 3 Issue: 3-4 Dated: (July-December 1987) Pages: 1-11
R Jessor
Date Published
11 pages
This study tests the hypothesis that adolescents' risky driving is another instance of adolescent problem behavior explainable under Problem-Behavior Theory.
Data were taken from a broader study of adolescents' health-compromising behaviors. During the 1985-1986 school year, approximately 1,800 junior and senior high school males and females completed a 29-page questionnaire. One of the items asked how often in the past 6 months the respondent had 'taken some risks when driving in traffic because it makes driving more fun.' Even this single item of self-reported risky driving indicates systematic linkages with other problem behaviors that are topographically and contextually different. A Risky Driving Scale comprised of four items which implicate risk in driving were applied to relevant questionnaire data. A variety of measures from the theoretical framework of Problem-Behavior Theory were correlated with the scores on the Risky Driving Scale. Problem-Behavior Theory is based in three systems of psychosocial influence: the Personality System, the Perceived Environment System, and the Behavior System. Within each of the three systems, the explanatory variables reflect either instigations to problem behavior or controls against it. The findings support the relevance of this theory in accounting for variation in adolescents' risky driving. This suggests that risky driving is an aspect of a broader adolescent lifestyle riddled with problem behaviors. 6 tables and 9 references.