Age differences in male drivers' perception of accident risk: the role of perceived driving ability

Accid Anal Prev. 1986 Aug;18(4):299-313. doi: 10.1016/0001-4575(86)90044-8.


Young (18-25) and older (35-50) male drivers were compared in their perception of driving risk and confidence in driving ability. Both groups provided responses a questionnaire on accident risk and driving ability and further generated subjective ratings of risk to a series of videotaped sequences depicting various elements of driving behavior. Although young drivers' estimates of accident involvement in the next year were higher than those of older drivers, young drivers gave lower ratings of accident risk for specific driving situations which demanded fast driving reflexes or substantial vehicle-handling skills. Young drivers rated their own risk of an accident and driving abilities as being the same as for older drivers. However, they saw their peers as being significantly higher at risk and having poorer abilities than themselves. Young drivers were more confident in their driving abilities than the older drivers. Evidence is provided to suggest that perceived risk and self-perceived driving abilities are interrelated. Further, the data from young drivers showed two disturbing characteristics: first, a notable dissociation between perceived and actual ability and, second, a tendency to view themselves as immune from the effects of higher levels of risk, which they are prepared to ascribe to their peers but not to themselves.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Risk-Taking
  • Self Concept*