|dc.description.abstract||Vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of severe injury or death in the world, and are accompanied by tremendous social and financial burdens. Excessive or inappropriate speed plays a major role in increasing the likelihood that a crash will occur, as well as elevating the severity of injury or damage. Young drivers are disproportionately over-represented in speed related crash involvement, and determining the factors contributing to young driver crashes is an important consideration. Both age and gender stand out as playing important roles in drivers crash likelihood, with the probability of being involved in a crash being significantly elevated for drivers aged under 25 years old. Young drivers are also prone to over-confidence in their driving skills, and this ‘poor calibration’ has been found to be a factor in crash involvement. Also, lack of impulse control could be a major factor related to speeding behaviour. Young drivers may have still developing executive functions of the frontal lobes, which might explain these age related factors of unsafe driving.
One yet unexplored factor in determining the likelihood of crash involvement is the role of life satisfaction and well-being in driving behaviour. Low levels of life satisfaction have been found to be associated with risky, maladaptive, or disadvantageous behaviours. Given that younger people have high rates of depression and anxiety, this may implicate life satisfaction as an important and unexplored area of interest in driver psychology. In the current study, we looked to explore whether different levels of life satisfaction was related to the way drivers chose preferred speeds in a laboratory and video-based speed choice task. Additionally, measures of self-rated driver skills, past driving violations, as well as probability of future risky driving behaviour were used in order to predict speed choices in young driver.
It was found that while there was significant difference between gender groups, with the unexpected finding of female drivers choosing faster speeds, the life-satisfaction measures were not found to be significant in predicting speed choices. However, it was indeed observed that drivers who were classified as low in life satisfaction tended to choose faster speeds, but this needs to be replicated with a larger sample to increase the power of the statistics, possibly revealing a significant effect. The thesis discusses limitations of the current research as well as suggestions for further research.||