Differential impact of personality traits on distracted driving behaviors in teens and older adults

Accid Anal Prev. 2016 Jul;92:107-12. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2016.03.011. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Objective: To determine the impact of personality on distracted driving behaviors.

Method: Participants included 120 drivers (48 teens, 72 older adults) who completed the 45-item Big Five Personality questionnaire assessing self-reported personality factors and the Questionnaire Assessing Distracted Driving (QUADD) assessing the frequency of distracted driving behaviors. Associations for all five personality traits with each outcome (e.g., number of times texting on the phone, talking on the phone, and interacting with the phone while driving) were analyzed separately for teens and older adults using negative binomial or Poisson regressions that controlled for age, gender and education.

Results: In teens, higher levels of openness and conscientiousness were predictive of greater reported texting frequency and interacting with a phone while driving, while lower levels of agreeableness was predictive of fewer reported instances of texting and interacting with a phone while driving. In older adults, greater extraversion was predictive of greater reported talking on and interacting with a phone while driving. Other personality factors were not significantly associated with distracted driving behaviors.

Conclusions: Personality traits may be important predictors of distracted driving behaviors, though specific traits associated with distracted driving may vary across age groups. The relationship between personality and distracted driving behaviors provides a unique opportunity to target drivers who are more likely to engage in distracted driving behavior, thereby increasing the effectiveness of educational campaigns and improving driving safety.

Keywords: Big Five Personality; Distracted driving; Driving safety; Older drivers; Teen drivers; Texting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention
  • Cell Phone*
  • Distracted Driving / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality*
  • Self Report
  • Text Messaging / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult