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Motorists’ Perceptions of Aggressive Driving: A Comparative Analysis of Ontario and California Drivers David L. Wiesenthal Christine M. Wickens York University Kathy Rippey Ontario Provincial Police Aggressive Driving Statistics

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Motorists’ Perceptions of Aggressive Driving: A Comparative Analysis of Ontario and California Drivers

David L. Wiesenthal

Christine M. Wickens

York University

Kathy Rippey

Ontario Provincial Police

aggressive driving statistics
Aggressive Driving Statistics
  • Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) received up to 500 telephone calls per week complaining about aggressive driving behaviour (Mitchell, 1997).
  • 38% of Ontario drivers reported experiencing some form of abuse over the past year (Toljagic, 2000).
  • 90% of American Automobile Association members reported witnessing an aggressive driving incident in the last year (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2000).
aggressive driving statistics3
Aggressive Driving Statistics
  • In 2002, 88% of Canadian drivers admitted to engaging in aggressive driving behaviour within the past year (Nerves of Steel Study, 2002).
  • 65% of Canadians considered driver aggression to be a serious or extremely serious problem. Ontarians were the most concerned Canadian drivers (Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 2001).
  • Estimates indicated that aggressive driving contributed to 28,000 highway deaths per year in the USA (“Road Rage”, 1997)
previous research sarkar martineau emami khatib wallace 2000
Previous Research(Sarkar, Martineau, Emami, Khatib, & Wallace, 2000)
  • Data
    • 1987 cell phone calls reporting unsafe driving to the California Highway Patrol in San Diego County in April, June, and September of 1998
  • Coding Scheme
    • Speeding
    • Speeding plus some other behaviour
    • Weaving and Cutting
    • Tailgating
    • “Road Rage” (rude language/gestures, horn honking, preventing others from passing)
previous research sarkar martineau emami khatib wallace 20005
Previous Research(Sarkar, Martineau, Emami, Khatib, & Wallace, 2000)

Categorization of Cell Phone Calls N = 1987

ROAD RAGE

13%

SPEEDING &

OTHER BEHAVIOUR

25%

SPEEDING

20%

WEAVING & CUTTING

27%

TAILGATING

13%

previous research sarkar martineau emami khatib wallace 20006
Previous Research(Sarkar, Martineau, Emami, Khatib, & Wallace, 2000)
  • Results – Time of Year
    • After combining all three categories of aggressive driving, no differences were found between June and September.
    • No seasonal variation was found for speeding.
    • There was a significant difference in the number of reported road rage incidents between June and September. The authors did not report which month received the greatest number of reported incidents.
previous research sarkar martineau emami khatib wallace 20007
Previous Research(Sarkar, Martineau, Emami, Khatib, & Wallace, 2000)
  • Results – Day of Week
    • The number of calls varied by day of the week for all incidents together and each category.
    • Friday received the greatest number of calls, and Sunday received the lowest.
  • Results – Time of Day
    • The time period when aggressive driving, speeding, and road rage were reported most was 1500 to 1800 hours.
previous research sarkar martineau emami khatib wallace 20008
Previous Research(Sarkar, Martineau, Emami, Khatib, & Wallace, 2000)
  • Weaknesses
    • The use of combination classifications (e.g. speeding + some other behaviour) is imprecise. It doesn’t indicate how many calls involve weaving, tailgating, etc.
    • The classification system makes unwarranted assumptions about driver intentions (e.g. “Forced vehicle off road” may have resulted from vehicle inattention rather than road rage.)
    • Very minor incidents were included in the road rage category, giving a very distorted view of driving violence (e.g. horn honking, preventing others from passing)
    • Absence of coding scheme reliability statistic.
opp data
OPP Data
  • At various times throughout the year, the OPP engages in well-publicized aggressive driving enforcement campaigns
  • Motorists were encouraged to pull off to the side of the highway, and to call in and report aggressive drivers
  • 14,406 telephone calls concerning driving complaints were made to the OPP Call Centre in the year 2000
coding scheme
Coding Scheme

A) Improper Speed - (i) Speeding/Racing

(ii) Unnecessary Slow Driving

(iii) Sporadic Speeds

B)Tailgating

C) Dangerous Lane Changes/Lane Usage

D) Improperly Equipped and Unsafe Vehicle

E) Disobedience of Traffic Signs and Signals

F) Hostile Driver Displays

G) Erratic Driver

H) Driver Inattention

I) Hazardous Road Conditions Not Attributable to Driver Behaviour

J) Cannot be Classified

  • Each call could be placed in any one or more categories.
coding scheme example
Coding Scheme Example
  • “Possibly impaired, weaving, nearly forced me off the road, no headlights.”
  • Coded as:
    • Erratic driver
    • Dangerous land changes and lane usage
    • Improperly equipped and unsafe vehicle
reliability of the coding scheme
Reliability of the Coding Scheme
  • Each month of calls was coded by two independent raters; one graduate student and one undergraduate student.
  • If there was a disagreement between the two primary coders, a third independent coder categorized the call. The final classification included categories selected by at least two of the three coders.
  • Reliability of coding system using Cohen’s kappa = .84
conclusions
Conclusions
  • Type of Driving Behaviour Reported
    • The most commonly reported aggressive driving behaviours are: 1) dangerous lane usage

2) excessive speeding

    • When we drive, we need to feel that other drivers’ behaviour is predictable. When drivers are speeding or weaving, their behaviour is seen as unpredictable and sufficiently disconcerting to warrant reporting to the police.
conclusions20
Conclusions
  • Time of Year
    • The number of driving complaints to the OPP rises during the summer months, coinciding with the rise in traffic volumes due to increased tourism and vacationers.
  • Day of the Week
    • The greatest number of complaints was reported on Fridays. This result replicates the findings of Sarkar et al. (2000).
    • The lowest number of complaints was reported on Mondays. However, for several of the individual categories, the lowest number of complaints was reported on Sundays, as was found by Sarkar et al.
conclusions21
Conclusions
  • Time of Day
    • As seen in the Sarkar et al. research (2000), the current study indicated that most complaints were made between 1200 and 1800 hours.
    • Like Sarkar et al., dangerous lane usage was reported most often between 1500 and 1800 hours.
    • Unlike Sarkar et al., however, speeding and tailgating were reported more frequently between 1200 and 1500 hours.
conclusions22
Conclusions
  • Increased traffic congestion is related to the number of reported incidents of aggressive driving behaviour. This is consistent with the findings of Hennessy & Wiesenthal (1997, 1999), who found evidence for congestion-induced stress leading to aggressive roadway behaviours.
potential applications
Potential Applications
  • Simplified data recording for the OPP
  • Identification of appropriate targets and time periods for future OPP enforcement campaigns
  • Focus of media campaigns, advertisements, and warning signs
  • Themes for driver education and testing