How does a driver feel behind the wheel? An exploratory study of drivers' emotions and the effect of their sociodemographic background

Accid Anal Prev. 2023 Apr:183:106974. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2023.106974. Epub 2023 Jan 31.


Recent driving behaviour theories with motivational approaches have paid considerable attention to the cognitive characteristics of the driver, especially emotions. The role of drivers' emotions in driving behaviour has been the subject of extensive research, but an important question remains: how do drivers feel in actual driving situations? In this study, we developeda questionnaire comprised of 20 different emotions, conducted an online survey, and collected the responses from 232 participants. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) indicated a 4-factor structure. In addition, a path diagram and a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were constructed, and the factors were semantically named "Unease," "Fear," "Pride," and "Joy," representing two positive and two negative emotions, respectively. Four multiple linear regression (MLR) analyses revealed a statistically significant but low-magnitudeeffect of sociodemographic variables on emotions. The correlations between the emotional factors indicate that two negative emotions and one positive emotion (pride) are highly positively correlated, whereas "joy" is the only emotion negatively associated with negative emotions and has a low correlation with pride. These results imply that sociodemographic variables may only serve as a foundation for forming a driver's contingent emotions, which are later specified by other factors, such as the driving context. Moreover, "joy" may be the only emotional factor that promotes regulation-congruent and favourable driving behaviour; the other three factors may result in various unfavourable driving styles. These findings may be used to determine the needs and specific characteristics of every driver based on their feelings and help design various mitigation measures addressing unfavourable behaviours tailored for different groups of drivers.

Keywords: Driver emotion; Driving theories; Factor analysis; Motivational models; Socio-demographic factors.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Automobile Driving* / psychology
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires