Are some types of road users more inclined to risky behaviour than others?


In traffic, different types of road users – drivers, (light) moped riders and cyclists – frequently engage in risky behaviour. It is hard to determine objectively whether some groups of road users are more inclined to this behaviour than other groups.

By their own account, drivers report multiple offences concerning speeding and handheld smartphone use [31]. Motorcyclists and (light) moped riders also report speeding as a frequent offence. By their own account, cyclists are mainly guilty of offences such handheld smartphone use [32] or cycling after consumption of (possibly) more alcohol than is legal [31]. Cycling under the influence of alcohol appears to be quite common: during nights out, 44% of the tested cyclists in the cities of Groningen and The Hague were, legally speaking, under the influence of alcohol [33].

Thus, all types of road users sometimes display risky behaviour and there are no objective data that some types of road users do this more often than others. There are, however, indications that people are inclined to attribute negative or antisocial characteristics to road users that (momentarily) have a different road user role than they themselves have. This phenomenon may be explained by the social identity theory [34], which says that someone’s social identity determines who he considers as ‘us’ or ‘them,’ and explains the inclination to attribute positive characteristics to the former group and negative characteristics to the latter. If road users derive their identity from a specific road user role (‘driver’ or ‘cyclist’), the tendency to interpret road user behaviour of other groups more negatively may follow. In Dutch research, Hoekstra et al. [35] found evidence for this theory: road users who mainly identified themselves as ‘drivers’ were more inclined to expect cyclists to violate the rules than to expect other drivers to do so. They were also more inclined to attribute offending behaviour to a cyclist’s personality than to circumstance.

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Risky road user behaviour, aggression and repeat offenders

Risky road user behaviour is behaviour that adversely affects road safety, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or… Meer

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