Pedestrian safety: Motorists’ attitudes to the law and driving practices in South Africa
Keywords:attitudes, lawlessness, pedestrian safety, driving/driver behaviour, South Africa, personality traits
In Africa, 40% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians – the highest proportion globally. Yet little is known about driver characteristics that are associated with unsafe driving in African countries. We aimed to explore associations between driving practices that endanger pedestrian safety and motorists’ attitudes to the law (i.e. lawlessness and normlessness), controlling for sociodemographic and personality factors. We used the Response Time Method, based on Russell Fazio’s attitude paradigm, to collect information about driver behaviours, attitudes, and personality traits among a sample of 440 motorists. Male gender was associated with unsafe driving, even when controlling for the effects of personality and attitudes to the law. Unsafe driving was also associated with four dimensions of motorists’ personality, namely aggression, impulsivity, risk tolerance, and altruism, even when controlling for sociodemographic factors. Lawlessness (defined as a general disregard for the law) is also an important determinant of unsafe driving, even when controlling for sociodemographic and personality factors. These findings suggest that efforts to improve pedestrian safety in South Africa should focus on changing motorists’ attitudes to the law.
This study addresses pedestrian safety in the context of South Africa. The fact that 40% of traffic fatalities are pedestrians highlights the urgent need to understand the factors contributing to unsafe driving practices. The study delves into uncharted territory by examining driver characteristics associated with unsafe driving. Through exploring associations between driving practices that endanger pedestrian safety and motorists’ attitudes to the law, this article provides valuable insights that can inform targeted interventions.
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