Thursday, November 5, 2009

Do Men and Women Commit Different Types of Driving Violations?

Do Men and Women Commit Different Types of Driving Violations?: "

This was a question posed to me by an audience member at a recent speaking engagement, based on his observation at his small town’s local courthouse that males seemed to predominate on the speeding offenses, while women seemed more prone to things like traffic signal/stop sign violations.


It’s an interesting question, one that, like many things in traffic, I imagine is difficult to tease out of the official citation statistics (as that wouldn’t give us the exposure data, among other things).


It did put me in mind of a recent study, “Committing driving violations: An observational study comparing city, town and village,” by Tova Rosenbloom and colleagues at Israel’s Bar Ilan University, published in the most recent Journal of Safety Science. This paper looked at five traffic violations (”(a) not wearing a seat belt (seat belt violation); (b) not using a safety seat for a child (safety seat violation for children); (c) not using a speaker while speaking on the phone (on-phone violation); (d) failing to comply with a ‘give way’ sign (‘give way’ sign violation); and (e) stopping in an undesignated area (undesignated stop violation).”) in three settings: City, town, small village.


There was a clear gender effect, but essentially it was that men were more likely to commit violations of any type than women (I didn’t see it gender data coded by violation type), which is not surprising.


But there was another, perhaps more interesting finding: The highest level of violations came not in a city like Tel Aviv, but in the villages (which had around 3,000 and 800 residents).


The researchers speculated a number of reasons: The more complex city driving environment challenges drivers and forces them to pay more attention (they also feel it to be riskier, even if it actually isn’t, which explains greater seat-belt compliance) there may be less law enforcement in the smaller areas, the drivers in the small towns may be more likely to be local drivers (whose familiarity with the road environment breeds a relaxed attitude toward whatever signals and regulations are in force).


And if anyone has seen any studies examining violation types by gender, please advise.


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