Finding ways to accomplish changes in behaviour and attitudes among risk-prone drivers ought to be one of the most urgent challenges facing traffic psychology today.
Two studies were carried out, investigating the hypothesis that answering a questionnaire regarding self-reported risky driving behaviour and attitudes related to risk-taking in driving, would have a positive impact on future self-reported risky driving behaviour. A total of 193 men, between 18 and 20 years old, recruited at their enrolment for military service, participated in the first study. In the second study 149 men, recruited in the same way and of the same age, participated.
Results from both studies showed a significant (p<.001) change in self-reported risky driving behaviour some six weeks after responding to the first questionnaire. In Study 1 there was also a significant change in the subjective probability of having an accident and in attitudes relating to the risk of injuries in traffic. All changes were in the direction of less risk-taking attitudes and behaviour.
It is argued that answering the questionnaire made attitudes related to personal driving style more accessible and stimulated participants to come to terms with contradictory aspects of their behaviour and attitudes. The results are discussed in terms of the “Question-behaviour effect” (Sprott et. al., 2006), i.e., the phenomenon that questioning a person about a certain behaviour can influence the future performance of that behaviour. It is suggested that techniques aimed at increasing reflection over personal driving style could be used as a means to diminish risk-taking in traffic among young male drivers. In addition, the present data imply that it is important to find methods for evaluating effects of interventions in the traffic safety area that do not interfere with the intervention as such.