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Age and gender differences in risk-taking behaviour as an explanation for high incidence of motor vehicle crashes as a driver in young males

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Risk-taking behaviour has been identified as a possible explanation for the high incidence of motor vehicle crashes involving young male drivers. This study examines the extent to which differences in risk-taking behaviour explain the differential crash rates by age and gender. A random sample of 689 adults aged 17-88 were selected from motor vehicle license holders within randomly selected geographical areas across Queensland. Participants completed a questionnaire covering their attitudes towards driving behaviour and general risk-taking behaviour, selected demographic characteristics and self-reported history of road crashes as a driver. Univariate analysis showed that males scored higher means than females in driver aggression and thrill seeking and in their general risk acceptance. Multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated that males were twice as likely (OR 2.46, CI 1.59-3.83) to have reported at least one crash as a driver compared to females and nearly three times as likely (OR 2.88, CI 1.84-4.49) to have reported two or more crashes. Drivers aged 17-29 were also twice as likely (OR 2.31, CI 1.10-4.19) to have reported at least one crash when compared to those aged over 50 years. When risk-taking behaviours were introduced into the logistic model the odds of males (OR 1.70, CI 1.29-3.30) or 17-29 year olds (OR 1.30, CI 0.93-3.91) being involved in at least one crash substantially reduced. An increased risk of a crash as a driver can, in part, be explained by the age and gender differential in risk-taking behaviour. The challenge for public health professionals is to determine suitable strategies to modify risk-taking behaviour in young or male drivers.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1076/icsp.

Publication date: September 1, 2003

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