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Optimism about safety and group-serving interpretations of safety among pedestrians and cyclists in relation to road use in general and under low light conditions

King, Mark J., Wood, Joanne M., Lacherez, Philippe F., & Marszalek, Ralph P. (2012) Optimism about safety and group-serving interpretations of safety among pedestrians and cyclists in relation to road use in general and under low light conditions. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 44(1), pp. 154-159.

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Abstract

Drivers are known to be optimistic about their risk of crash involvement, believing that they are less likely to be involved in a crash than other drivers. However, little comparative research has been conducted among other road users. In addition, optimism about crash risk is conceptualised as applying only to an individual’s assessment of his or her personal risk of crash involvement. The possibility that the self-serving nature of optimism about safety might be generalised to the group-level as a cyclist or a pedestrian, i.e., becoming group-serving rather than self-serving, has been overlooked in relation to road safety. This study analysed a subset of data collected as part of a larger research project on the visibility of pedestrians, cyclists and road workers, focusing on a set of questionnaire items administered to 406 pedestrians, 838 cyclists and 622 drivers. The items related to safety in various scenarios involving drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, allowing predictions to be derived about group differences in agreement with items based on the assumption that the results would exhibit group-serving bias. Analysis of the responses indicated that specific hypotheses about group-serving interpretations of safety and responsibility were supported in 22 of the 26 comparisons. When the nine comparisons relevant to low lighting conditions were considered separately, seven were found to be supported. The findings of the research have implications for public education and for the likely acceptance of messages which are inconsistent with current assumptions and expectations of pedestrians and cyclists. They also suggest that research into group-serving interpretations of safety, even for temporary roles rather than enduring groups, could be fruitful. Further, there is an implication that gains in safety can be made by better educating road users about the limitations of their visibility and the ramifications of this for their own road safety, particularly in low light.

Impact and interest:

3 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 38979
Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Pedestrians, Cyclists, Self-serving, Optimism bias, Visibility
DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2010.12.003
ISSN: 0001-4575
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > OPTOMETRY AND OPHTHALMOLOGY (111300) > Vision Science (111303)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Sensory Processes Perception and Performance (170112)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100) > Social and Community Psychology (170113)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Optometry & Vision Science
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Please consult the authors.
Deposited On: 16 Dec 2010 15:25
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2012 00:27

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