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7_ Gender and Age-related Differences in Attitudes Toward Traffic Laws and Traffic Violations

7_ Gender and Age-related Differences in Attitudes Toward Traffic Laws and Traffic Violations

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Gender and age-related dierences in attitudes towardtrac laws and trac violations
Dana Yagil*
Faculty of Social Welfare & Health Studies, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel 
Received 20 June 1998; received in revised form 18 November 1998; accepted 20 November 1998
The study examined gender and age-related dierences in drivers' normative motives for compliancewith trac laws and in gain±loss considerations related to driving. Two age groups of male and femalestudents, totaling 181 respondents, completed a questionnaire measuring several normative motives forcompliance with trac laws, perceived gains and danger involved in the commission of trac violations,and the frequency of committing various driving violations. The results show that younger drivers andmale drivers express a lower level of normative motivation to comply with trac laws than do female andolder drivers. The lowest level of perceived importance of trac laws relative to other laws was foundamong young male drivers. The commission of trac violations was found to be related more to the eva-luation of trac laws among men and younger drivers, compared to women and older drivers. The per-ceived danger involved in the commission of a driving violation, however, was found to constitute muchmore of a factor among women than among men before the commission of trac violations. Perceivedgains involved in the commission of violations were more strongly pronounced among older drivers thanamong younger drivers. Results are discussed concerning dierent types of attitude±behavior relationshipsin the context of driving.
1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Trac laws; Normative motivation; Gender; Age
1. Introduction
Studies examining demographic factors relating to dangerous driving show that gender is sig-ni®cant in predicting involvement in accidents; the rate of men's involvement in fatal road acci-dents is twice as high as women's. Furthermore, a woman's chance of getting hurt in a tracaccident is 25% lower that that of a man's (Evans, 1991). Other studies show that men's invol-vement in road accidents is related more often than is women's to the violation of trac laws(Simon & Corbett, 1996). Speci®cally, Storie (1977) found that whereas men were involved more
1369-8478/99/$ - see front matter
1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.PII: S1369-8478(98)00010-2
Transportation Research Part F 1 (1998) 123±135* Tel.: +972-4824-9135; Fax: +972-4824-9282; E-mail: dyagil@research.haifa.ac.il
often than women in accidents caused by speeding and driving under the in¯uence of alcohol,women were more frequently involved in accidents caused by judgment errors. Harre, Field, andKirkwood (1996) found that men, more than women, engage in unsafe driving behaviors, such asdriving after drinking and speeding.Age is another demographic variable frequently found to be related to risky driving. Youngerdrivers violate the law more often than do older drivers (Groeger & Brown, 1989; Jonah &Dawson, 1987; Parker, Reason, Manstead, & Stradling, 1995), are more involved in crashes(Evans, Wasielewski, & Von-Buseck, 1982) and suer more fatal road accidents (Arnett, 1990;Levy, 1990).Several studies have found an interactive eect of gender and age on driving behavior: Youngmale drivers are considered a high-risk group in regard to accident involvement (Arnett, 1990),risky driving (Groeger & Brown, 1989), aggressive driving (Simon & Corbett, 1996), violation of trac laws (Jonah & Dawson, 1987) and even parking illegally in spaces reserved for people withdisabilities (Fletcher, 1995).
1.1. Attitudes toward trac laws
Perception of the danger involved in the commission of trac violations has frequently beendescribed as aecting driving behavior (Dejoy, 1992; Finn & Bragg, 1986; Matthews & Moran,1986; Tra Ènkle, Gelau, & Metker, 1990). Driving behavior, however, is likely to be in¯uenced by amore comprehensive system of drivers' attitudes which is described in models of social in¯uence.Tyler (1990) presents a dierentiation in regard to instrumental and normative motives forcompliance with the law. Instrumental motives are related to the gains and losses involved inobeying or disobeying the law. In the area of driving, losses are the danger of a road accidentresulting from the commission of violations or the risk of apprehension (Shinar & McKnight,1986). The gains involved in driving are pleasure and convenience (Arnett, 1990; Rothengatter,1988; Rutter, Quine, & Chesham 1995). Normative motives result from the internalization of thelaw and the perceived legitimacy of the authorities enforcing the law (Tyler, 1990). Kelman (1961)describes reactions to in¯uence and dierentiates between compliance which is initiated by adesire to avoid punishment or to receive positive rewards, and the internalization of an attitudebecause it is perceived as coherent with reality as well as the individual's general system of valuesand beliefs. Compliance is achieved through control, and is expressed only in the presence of thein¯uence agent. On the other hand, internalization results in a long lasting eect of the attitudewhich does not depend on the presence of the in¯uence agent.
1.2. Rational choice theory explanations for gender and age in¯uence
The rational-choice theory of oending explains crimes in terms of the costs and bene®ts of committing violations (Cornish & Clarke, 1986) and predicts that the intention to commit illegalbehavior is inversely related to the perceived costs of the act. In the area of trac violations, thisexplanation is suggested for gender dierences in driving behavior. Studies show that male driversunderestimate the hazards involved in various driving activities (Dejoy, 1992) and assess theirdriving ability more highly than do female drivers assess theirs (Dejoy, 1992; Matthews & Moran,1986). For example, McKenna, Stanier, and Lewis (1991) found that men tended to rate their
D. Yagil/Transportation Research Part F 1 (1998) 123±135
driving skills as better than average in all driving components, whereas such a positive bias wasmore limited among women.Furthermore, these attitudes toward the commission of violations are supported by socialnorms relating to gender. For example, Rienzi, McMillin, Dickson, and Crauthers (1996) foundthat adolescents considered driving after drinking to be more acceptable for boys than for girls.Yinon and Levian (1995) found that women were less aected than were men by the presence of other drivers in regard to entering an intersection before the trac light turned green. Baxter etal. (1990) found that speeding was reduced in the presence of older passengers, specially olderwomen.Similar results were found with regard to age: compared with older drivers, young drivers givea lower evaluation to the risk involved in the commission of violations (Dejoy, 1992; Finn &Bragg, 1986; Tra Ènkle, Gelau, & Metker, 1990) and a higher evaluation to their driving ability(Matthews & Moran, 1986).Several studies examining the intention to commit trac violations with attitudes and beliefsrelated to the behavior found that men and younger drivers expect less negative outcomes as aresult of committing trac violations, perceive more social approval of such behavior andexperience less control over the behavior, compared to women and older drivers (Parker, Man-stead, Stradling, Reason, & Baxter, 1992).
1.3. Normative motives for compliance with trac laws
The normative perspective of obedience to the law, which has not been studied as extensively asthe instrumental perspective in the area of trac laws, focuses on voluntary compliance ratherthan compliance as a response to external rewards and punishments. Voluntary complianceresults from a belief that the legal authorities have a legitimate right to dictate behavior. Thisview is derived either from support of speci®c authority groups, such as police ocers and judges,or from one's general support of the government. Voluntary compliance might also result from asense of personal morality and a perception of right and wrong. Accordingly, people might dis-obey certain laws if this is not perceived as immoral, while obeying other laws (Tyler, 1990).Although most studies of driving behavior have focused on gain±loss considerations involvedin driving, there is some indirect evidence that gender and age are likely to aect normativemotivation for compliance with trac laws. For example, women evaluate trac violations moreseriously than do men (Agostinelli & Miller, 1994; Moyano, 1997), whereas men are moreangered than are women by the presence of police (Deenbacher, Oetting, & Lynch, 1994). Fur-thermore, studies have shown that women have more positive attitudes than men toward otherareas of law. For example, McAllister (1995), examining public support for policies designed toreduce alcohol consumption, found that women were more likely to support restrictions thanwere men. In regard to age-related dierences in normative motivation, a study conducted with asample of male drivers in the Israeli military revealed that older drivers have a stronger sense of obligation to obey trac laws than do younger drivers and have more positive attitudes towardtrac-law enforcement by police (Yagil, 1998a,b).In summary, previous studies have identi®ed men and young drivers as high-risk groups inregard to driving. Attitude-related explanations of these ®ndings concentrated on perceptions of dangers and gains involved in the commission of trac violations. The present study extends the
D. Yagil/Transportation Research Part F 1 (1998) 123±135

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