Cross-cultural differences in driver risk-perception

Accid Anal Prev. 1989 Aug;21(4):355-62. doi: 10.1016/0001-4575(89)90026-2.


This study investigated differences in risk-perception among U.S., Spanish, West German, and Brazilian drivers. Subjects estimated the risk involved in slide-projected traffic scenes. The scenes, photographed in the United States and Spain, were rated for the amount of risk by using a seven-point scale. The subject groups in each country included younger, middle-aged, and older nonprofessional drivers, as well as middle-aged professional (bus, taxi, or truck) drivers. In the data analyses, the independent variables were subjects' country, age, professional driving experience, and sex, and 23 dichotomously coded characteristics of the traffic scenes. The following are the main findings: (1) Spanish drivers reported the highest risk, while U.S. drivers reported the lowest risk; (2) younger drivers tended to report lower risk than middle-aged and older drivers; (3) nineteen of the 23 analysed characteristics of traffic scenes contributed significantly to risk ratings, even after simultaneously controlling for the effects of all other scene characteristics; (4) ten scene characteristics had a differential effect on the risk ratings in the four tested countries; (5) two scene characteristics had a differential effect on the risk ratings in the four tested subject groups; (6) none of the variables affected differentially the risk ratings of professional vs. nonprofessional drivers and males vs. females. These findings provide information concerning the desirable country- and age-specific emphasis in driver education, driver licensing, and public information campaigns.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Female
  • Germany, West
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Health Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept
  • Spain
  • United States