The concept of traffic psychology is not new to South Africa, but it is not often something that practitioners discuss in professional forums. This is somewhat strange, as traffic is probably one of the most ubiquitous topics of discussion for any person who finds themselves in it on a regular basis. More specifically, you will often find that South Africans lament the lack of driving skills or basic courtesy of drivers on the roads today. This, combined with added stressors such as construction on the roads, ill-maintained roads and traffic jams, probably makes the mention of traffic in a conversion a daily occurrence for any driver or passenger. There is very little published research on driving behaviours in South Africa, but internationally, traffic psychology is a thriving field of research and practice. There are some reports on the incidence of road rage, and many transport companies make use of special assessments to select their drivers, but very few of these studies are published, so very little is publicly known about this field in South Africa. JvR recently conducted some preliminary research into the link between driving behaviours and aspects of personality. A brief (and very broad) questionnaire on different types of driving behaviours was created, and this was administered to a sample of South Africans along with two personality questionnaires in order to investigate whether there were any links. The personality questionnaires used were the Basic Traits Inventory and the Hogan Personality Inventory. The preliminary research conducted during the study revealed some patterns in driving behaviour and its relationship with aspects of personality. The results indicated that drivers who engage in more risky driving behaviours such as aggressive driving, answering their cell phone while driving, and who get caught breaking the driving laws are also likely to be involved in more road accidents than those who do not engage in such risky behaviours. There were also correlations between aspects of personality such as level of personal energy, self-discipline, and willingness to admit mistakes and the number of accidents incurred. There were notable differences in personality style between professional drivers and ordinary drivers. Professional drivers reported being more conscientious, agreeable, having higher personal energy, being more sociable and being more adventurous than ordinary drivers. They also reported being somewhat less likely to remain calm under pressure, and less likely to seek out the limelight. The findings related to personality and risky driving behaviours were also illuminating. However, in many of these cases the size of the groups was small, so there is limited generalisability of the results. Various trends and patterns in personality traits were found for different admissions of risky driving behaviours. Further research into these areas may provide useful insights into the characteristics and behaviours that can lead to accidents, and perhaps aid the selection of safe drivers and promotion of safe driving behaviour. In addition, research into the aspects of personality that predict safer driving behaviour is needed. You can download the summary of the findings or the full technical report below. If you have any questions about the results, please contact Nicola at research@jvrafrica.co.za.

Personality and Driver Behaviour summary Personality and Driver Behaviour, Full Report