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Youth and Risk: Age Differences in Risky Driving, Risk Perception, and Risk Utility

NCJ Number
Alcohol Drugs and Driving Volume: 3 Issue: 3-4 Dated: (July-December 1987) Pages: 13-29
B A Jonah; N E Dawson
Date Published
17 pages
Results from a 1986 Canadian national household survey (n=2,207) that examined differences between younger and older drivers on a number of measures of risky driving, risk perception, and risk utility indicate that risky driving does differ substantially as a function of age.
Young drivers (16-24 years old) were more likely to engage in risky driving habits (e.g., following too closely and speeding), and they were more likely to have been involved in accidents and violations. Only the 21-24-year-olds were less likely to report seat belt use than the older drivers. Moreover, there was some indication that impaired driving was reported more frequently among the youngest age group (16-20 years old) Young drivers perceived less danger in a variety of driving situations (e.g., driving while impaired and unbelted in the front seat), and they perceived safety countermeasures to be less effective overall in reducing casualties. With respect to risk utility, young drivers placed less importance on safety features when buying a new car compared to older drivers, but the oldest drivers (50 and over) were least willing to pay for safety features. Intercorrelation of the risky behaviors revealed a moderate degree of consistency, but this consistency was greater among youth. Although there were no substantial differences in the predictors of risk-taking, it was apparently more predictable among young drivers. 17 tables and 27 references. (Author abstract modified)


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