Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour Barry Watson Deborah Tunnicliff Katy White Cynthia Schonfeld Darren Wishart Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q) Queensland University of Technology August 2007 Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour i Published by: Postal address: Office location: Telephone: Facsimile: E-mail: Internet:
Australian Transport Safety Bureau PO Box 967, Civic Square ACT 2608 15 Mort Street, Canberra City, Australian Capital Territory 1800 621 372; from overseas + 61 2 6274 6440 02 6274 3117; from overseas + 61 2 6274 3117 [email protected] gov. au www. atsb. gov. au © CARRS-Q, Queensland University of Technology 2006 To encourage the dissemination of this publication, it may be copied, downloaded, displayed, printed, reproduced, and distributed in unaltered form (retaining this notice).
Subject to the provisions of the Copyright Act 1968, no other use of the material in this publication may be made without the authorisation of the Queensland University of Technology. ii Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour DOCUMENT RETRIEVAL INFORMATION Report No. RSRG 2007-04 Publication date August 2007 No. of pages 152 ISBN 978 0 642 25564 8 ISSN Publication title Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour Author(s) Barry Watson, Deborah Tunnicliff, Katy White, Cynthia Schonfeld, Darren Wishart.
Organisation that prepared this document Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland University of Technology GPO Box 2434 Brisbane QLD 4001. Sponsor [Available from] Australian Transport Safety Bureau PO Box 967, Civic Square ACT 2608 Australia www. atsb. gov. au Project Officer John Collis Reference No. Aug2007/DOTARS 50323. Abstract This report documents two studies undertaken to identify and assess the psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider behaviour.
The primary aim of the research was to develop a Rider Risk Assessment Measure (RRAM), which would act as a tool for identifying high-risk riders by assessing rider intentions and self-reported behaviour. The first study (n = 47) involved a qualitative exploration of rider perceptions utilising a focus-group methodology. This study identified six key aspects of rider behaviour considered to influence safety: motorcycle handling skills; rider awareness; riding while impaired or not; and the tendency to bend road rules, push limits, and ride at extreme speeds or perform stunts.
Study two (n = 229) was survey-based and examined the psychological and social factors influencing these behaviours, utilising the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) and other relevant psychological constructs, such as sensation seeking and aggression. This study indicated that risky rider intentions were primarily influenced by attitudes and sensation seeking, while safer intentions were influenced by perceived behavioural control. While intentions significantly predicted all six types of behaviour, sensation seeking and a propensity for aggression emerged as significant predictors, particularly for the volitional risk-taking behaviours.
The measures of intention and behaviour comprising the RRAM were not found to be significantly correlated with self-reported crash involvement, possibly indicating shortcomings in the measurement of crashes. However, significant correlations were found between the components of the RRAM and self-reported traffic offence involvement. While further work is required to refine and validate the RRAM, it represents a potential tool for informing and evaluating motorcycle rider safety countermeasures. Keywords Motorcycle safety, theory of planned behaviour, sensation seeking, aggression Notes (1) (2)
ATSB reports are disseminated in the interest of information exchange. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the Australian Government or the ATSB. Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour iii CONTENTS Executive summary
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Background Motorcycle riding is rapidly increasing in popularity in Australia, attracting a much wider demographic of people than in decades past. Unfortunately, whilst the overall number of road deaths in Australia has generally been reducing, the proportion of motorcycle-related fatalities has been rising in recent years. Further, the proportion of motorcycle-related fatalities in Australia is unacceptably high compared with other OECD countries. To reduce motorcycle-related fatalities on Australian roads, there is an urgent need to consider motorcyclists as distinct from other road users.
This program of research facilitates the understanding of safety issues from a motorcyclist perspective and provides important information on factors influencing safe and unsafe rider intentions and behaviour. The aims of this program of research were to: • develop a better understanding of the psychological and social influences on rider behaviour in an Australian context; • guide the development of future motorcycle safety countermeasures; and • develop a tool (the Rider Risk Assessment Measure – RRAM) to inform the evaluation of motorcycle safety countermeasures, particularly in the area of training and education.
To achieve these aims, two particular studies were undertaken: a qualitative study of motorcycle rider perceptions utilising a focus-group methodology and a survey-based quantitative study of selfreported rider intentions and behaviour. Both studies were underpinned by a theoretical framework drawing on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB), identity theory, social identity theory, and other relevant psychological concepts such as sensation seeking and aggression. Key findings
Study 1 explored motorcyclists’ perceptions relating to ‘safe’ and ‘risky’ riding and the different personal and social factors that influenced their behaviour. A total of 43 people participated in this study, either as part of a focus group or as an interviewee. This exploratory process revealed six types of behaviours which were commonly believed to influence the safety (or riskiness) of motorcycle riding. These six behaviours are discussed below. Two behaviours were identified as being particularly essential to rider safety.
The first was the necessity of being able to handle the motorcycle proficiently and skilfully. The second related to the need for riders to maintain a high level of concentration whilst riding and to stay aware of the changing road environment. In contrast, there was some debate about the inherent safety or riskiness of the two next behaviours commonly identified. Firstly, some riders believed that obeying the road rules was essential to their safety, whilst others reported that it was often necessary to break the road rules in order to stay safe.
Secondly, the definition of what constituted ‘riding whilst impaired’ differed amongst riders. Most riders agreed that ‘drinking and riding’ was dangerous. However, for some, even one alcoholic drink before riding was considered dangerous, whilst others would ride after drinking provided they did not consider themselves to be over the legal BAC limit. Some riders stated that riding when viii Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour they were tired was dangerous; however, fatigue was not considered a serious safety issue for many participants.
Two further behaviours identified by participants were often associated with their accounts of crash involvement, yet not seen as intrinsically ‘unsafe’ by most riders. The first of these was the concept of ‘pushing your limits’. Most riders interviewed appeared to enjoy pushing the limits of their ability on a motorcycle. Whilst agreeing that pushing the limits too far was dangerous, pushing them to a point that tested a rider’s abilities was often reported to facilitate safety as this process developed a rider’s skill.
The second behaviour that was often mentioned in connection with crashes was extreme riding (e. g. , performing stunts and riding at extreme speeds). The act of perfecting a stunt was often reported to result in the crashing of the motorcycle, although these crashes were usually accepted as a normal part of the learning process. Once perfected, performing stunts did not appear to be considered an intrinsically unsafe behaviour, unless performed in traffic or other unpredictable situations. A sizable minority of both male and female participants reported riding at extreme speeds.
These riders often argued that they could ride extremely fast, safely, on public roads provided certain conditions were met (e. g. good visibility, minimal traffic, weather, road, and motorcycle maintenance). Study 2 involved 229 active motorcyclists who completed a questionnaire assessing: their riding intentions and self-reported behaviour; the psychological and social factors influencing these intentions and behaviour; and their self-reported involvement in road crashes and traffic offences over the last two years.
The questionnaire was structured around the six types of rider behaviour identified as important in Study 1. Key results of this study are discussed below. In order to obtain an insight into the factors underpinning both ‘safe’ and ‘risky’ behaviour, the six areas of interest were operationalised as three ‘safer’ behavioural intentions (i. e. handle the motorcycle skilfully, maintain 100% awareness, not ride impaired) and three ‘riskier’ intentions which represented more volitional risk-taking (i. e. bend the road rules, push the limits, perform stunts or ride at extreme speeds).
Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were then performed to assess the influence of different psychological and social factors on these intentions. These analyses indicated that a greater proportion of variance could be explained in the case of the riskier riding intentions [R2 ranging from 57% – 66%] than the safer riding intentions [R2 ranging from 22% – 36%]. The TPB construct of perceived behavioural control (PBC) significantly predicted all three ‘safer’ intentions, while attitude was a significant predictor of the three riskier intentions.
In terms of the social influences, the TPB construct of subjective norm (which assesses the influence of others considered important) proved a relatively weak predictor of behaviour. However, the measure of specific subjective norm (i. e. the influence of the people that someone rides with) emerged as a significant predictor of three of the six intentions. Over and above this, a propensity for sensation seeking was found to be significant predictor of the three risky intentions. Overall, a similar pattern of results emerged when the self-reported behaviours of the participants were examined.
Firstly, while the various psychological and social variables examined in the study significantly predicted all six behaviours, considerably larger amounts of variance were explained for the three volitional risk-taking behaviours, i. e. bend road rules to get through traffic [R2 = . 67], push my limits [R2 = . 59] and perform stunts and/or ride at extreme speeds [R2 = . 69]. Secondly, the results were largely consistent with the tenets of the TPB, with intentions proving a significant predictor of all six behaviours. Thirdly, sensation seeking, along with rider aggression, emerged as a strong predictor of all six behaviours.
Indeed, together, these two variables accounted for between 7 – 20% of additional variance in the six behaviours. Not surprisingly, these two variables accounted for relatively large amounts of additional variance in the ride while impaired [R2 ch = . 20] and the perform stunts and/or ride at extreme speeds [R2 ch = . 15] variables. Unfortunately, no significant correlations were found between the various measures of intention and behaviour operationalised in Study 2 and the self-reported crash involvement of the participants. It Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour ix
is possible that this indicates that the six behaviours of interest, in reality, do not have a close relationship with crash involvement. However, this conclusion does not seem consistent with either the findings of Study 1 or the research evidence reviewed in Chapter 2. More likely, the findings highlight shortcomings in the size of the sample and/or the way that crash involvement was measured in the study. In particular, given that crashes are relatively rare events, crashes were measured over a two year period in order to ensure that (some) participants would have experienced a sufficient number of crashes to facilitate the analyses.
However, this raises the possibility of recall problems that may have reduced the accuracy and reliability of the data, while the two year period may have been too long to accurately reflect the current intentions and behaviour of the participants. In contrast, the majority of the intention and behaviour measures were found to be significantly correlated with self-reported traffic offence involvement. In particular, significant associations were found between self-reported traffic offences and the three ‘riskier’ intentions examined in the study (i. e.
those relating to more volitional risk-taking, namely, bend the road rules, push my limits and perform stunts and/or ride at extreme speeds). In addition, significant associations were found between traffic offence involvement and five of the six self-reported behaviours examined (the only exception being for awareness errors). These results don’t necessarily confirm the inherent ‘riskiness’ of the behaviours examined, since engaging in an illegal behaviour may not always result in a crash. However, they do provide prima facia evidence supporting the validity of the intention and behaviour measures developed in this study.
Strengths and limitations of the research This program of research featured a number of strengths. Firstly, it was firmly grounded in theory; secondly, it utilised both qualitative and quantitative methods to obtain a broad insight into the factors influencing motorcycle rider behaviour; thirdly, the design of the research was informed by input from active motorcyclists; and finally, it adopted a balanced approach to motorcycle safety by examining both safe and risky riding intentions and behaviour. Nonetheless, the program of research also had a number of limitations.
Both Studies 1 and 2 consisted of participants primarily recruited from South East Queensland. In addition, the participants were volunteers who were generally older in age. As a result, the samples used in this research may not be representative of Australian motorcyclists in general, but instead reflect a subset of older, primarily recreational, riders. This should be borne in mind when interpreting the results. Furthermore, a number of other potential limitations in the Study 2 questionnaire design emerged during the analysis of the results.
These included the way that fatigue was grouped with alcohol and drugs to assess intentions and behaviour relating to riding while impaired and, as noted above, the manner in which crash involvement was measured. Implications of the research At a theoretical level, this program of research has confirmed that the predictive utility of the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) can be substantially improved by the addition of other variables. In particular, this research demonstrated that subjective norm (SN) was a relatively weak predictor of intentions and that the specific subjective norm (SSN) (i.e. assessing the influence of those people that someone rides with) performed relatively better as a measure of social influence.
Moreover, both sensation seeking and the propensity to ride aggressively proved significant predictors of all six behaviours examined, over and above the TPB and other social influence variables. The findings relating to sensation seeking are consistent with previous research in the traffic psychology area. x Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour.
However, the results relating to aggression warrant more attention, since this variable proved a relatively stronger predictor than sensation seeking of the error-based behaviours (i. e. handling errors and awareness errors), the ride while impaired behaviour, and the perform stunts and/or ride at extreme speeds behaviour. This suggests that the propensity to ride aggressively has a broader influence on rider behaviour, which is not limited to the more volitional risk-taking types of behaviours.
At a practical level, this program of research has identified a number of ways to enhance current motorcycle safety countermeasures, particularly in the area of rider training and education. Most particularly, it has identified a range of psychological and social influences on rider intentions and behaviour that appear to be beyond the scope of current skills-based approaches to motorcycle training and education. Consequently, further work is required to develop and trial new approaches to rider training and education that more effectively address the attitudinal and motivational influences on riding, both of a personal and social nature.
To assist in this process, this research has undertaken the first steps in the development of the Rider Risk Assessment Measure (RRAM). This tool is intended to act as a means of identifying high-risk riders by assessing their intentions and self-reported behaviour (in relation to both ‘safe’ and ‘risky’ riding). While further work is required to refine and validate the RRAM, it represents a tool that can be used in a variety of ways to enhance motorcycle safety countermeasures, including informing the design and content of training programs and evaluating the impact of different initiatives on rider behaviour.
Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour xi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors would like to acknowledge the funding support provided by the Australian Government, through the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB) Road Safety Research Grants Programme. The development and conduct of this study has involved the contribution of a large number of people.
While it is difficult to acknowledge all the individuals that have contributed, the authors would like to thank: • • Mr John Collis from the ATSB for his ongoing advice and support; those people who assisted us organise the focus groups, from organisations such as Queensland Transport, Motorcycle Riders Association Queensland, Ulysses, and Q-Ride providers; personnel from the Queensland Police Service, particularly the Logan and Brisbane West Districts, who assisted in the distribution of the pilot and main questionnaires at various motorcycle events;
The ongoing support for motorcycle research from Morgan and Wacker Pty Ltd; and the assistance of Morgan & Wacker Motorcycle Training Centre, particularly Mr Fred Davies, in the finalisation and distribution of the Study 2 questionnaire. xii Psychological and social factors influencing motorcycle rider intentions and behaviour GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND ACRONYMS ABS ATSB BAC Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Transport Safety Bureau [formerly Federal Office of Road Safety (FORS)]. Blood Alcohol Concentration.
In Australia, the legal amount of alcohol that may be present in the blood is 0. 05% if the driver or rider is on an unrestricted licence. It is usually measured either by a police breathalyser or a by a blood test (see also Over the limit). A person who identifies with, and belongs to, an organised outlaw motorcycle club. Club members ride motorcycles and often wear jackets with ‘patches’ which identify the club they belong to (Veno, 2002). A motorcycle enthusiast. May or may not belong to a motorcycle club (Krige, 1995a). Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland. A study design which collects data on the perceptions or behaviours of subjects at one point in time, as opposed to a longitudinal.