How do other people influence your driving speed? Exploring the 'who' and the 'how' of social influences on speeding from a qualitative perspective
Fleiter, Judy J., Lennon, Alexia J., & Watson, Barry (2010) How do other people influence your driving speed? Exploring the 'who' and the 'how' of social influences on speeding from a qualitative perspective. Transportation Research. Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 13(1), pp. 49-62.
Using only legal sanctions to manage the speed at which people drive ignores the potential benefits of harnessing social factors such as the influence of others. Social influences on driver speeds were explored in this qualitative examination of 67 Australian drivers. Focus group interviews with 8 driver types (young, mid-age and older males and females, and self-identified Excessive and Rare speeders) were guided by Akers’ social learning theory (Akers, 1998). Findings revealed two types of influential others: people known to the driver (passengers and parents), and unknown other drivers. Passengers were generally described as having a slowing influence on drivers: responsibility for the safety of people in the car and consideration for passenger comfort were key themes. In contrast, all but the Rare speeders reported increasing their speed when driving alone. Parental role modelling was also described. In relation to other drivers, key themes included speeding to keep up with traffic flow and perceived pressure to drive faster. This ‘pressure’ from others to ‘speed up’ was expressed in all groups and reported strategies for managing this varied. Encouragingly, examples of actual or anticipated social rewards for speeding were less common than examples of social punishments. Three main themes relating to social punishments were embarrassment, breaching the trust of others, and presenting an image of a responsible driver. Impression management and self-presentation are discussed in light of these findings. Overall, our findings indicate scope to exploit the use of social sanctions for speeding and social praise for speed limit compliance to enhance speed management strategies.
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