Sensation seeking is a personality trait that steers people at “varied, novel, complex and intense sensations and experiences” and at “accepting the physical, social, legal, and financial risks for the sake of such experiences”. Sensation seeking can have an immediate, direct effect on driving behaviour and crashes because sensation seekers are more inclined to look for new, exciting and intense sensations of, for example, driving fast and recklessly. Generally, the results show that sensation seeking is associated with self-reported risky driving behaviours, such as speeding, risky overtaking, alcohol-impaired driving, driving with multiple passengers, and with self-reported crash-involvement. Various studies show that this effect is robust after control for demographic and other personality variables. However, the independent effect of sensation seeking is generally small, its causal interpretation is not always clear, and in nearly all survey research the reported association may be inflated or exaggerated by research biases. In summary, although there is fairly consistent evidence that sensation seeking is linked to risky driving behaviours and road crashes, the independent, direct effect of sensation seeking is rather small and may be overestimated.
Personal Factors - Sensation seeking
European Road Safety Decision Support System, developed by the H2020 project SafetyCube
European Commission, Brussels