Adolescent road users: their behaviour and the effects of demographic variables

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


British statistics for 2001 showed that there were over 12,000 child road casualties between the ages of 11-16. Research indicates that substantial proportions of adolescent road users may engage in behaviours such as acts of 'risk taking', making errors of perception, and generally deviating from what is considered a 'safe' course of action. Aims to identify the kinds of behaviour carried out by adolescent road users that may influence their safety and to establish how their behaviour varies by demographic characteristic: age, sex and area. 2,433 pupils from secondary schools in England completed questionnaires designed to measure the frequency with which 43 specific road using behaviours were performed by the target population. The sample was equally distributed across the 11-16 year age range. 52.4% of the sample was male. 38.1% of the sample were from schools in rural areas, 34.8% was sampled from schools in small urban areas and 27.1% was sampled from schools located in large urban (conurbation) areas. Principal axis factor analysis indicated that the 43 behaviour items were best represented by a three-factor solution, accounting for 34.6% of the variance. Factor 1 covered 'unsafe road crossing behaviours' (e.g. 'cross between parked cars' and 'not look when crossing'). Factor 2 was concerned with 'dangerous playing in the road' (e.g. 'playing 'chicken' and 'not noticing a car approaching when playing games in the road'). Factor 3 behaviours were those that involved the use of protective equipment (e.g. wearing reflective clothing) and protecting oneself from some form of risk (e.g. 'use a lollipop man/lady to cross the road'). The label 'planned protective behaviour' was used to describe factor 3. Analysis of variance showed that there were significant main effects of age and sex on all types of behaviour identified. There were also significant effects of area on dangerous playing in the road and planned protective behaviour. Male adolescents reported carrying out unsafe road crossing and dangerous playing in the road more often than did females and reported performing planned protective behaviours less often. The reported frequency of unsafe road crossing increased with movement from the 11-12 year old age group to the 13-14 year age group and did not change significantly between the ages of 13-14 and 15-16 years. Dangerous playing in the road also increased with movement from the 11-12 to the 13-14 year age group, but the reported frequency of this type of behaviour dropped by age 15-16 to a level that was not significantly different from 11-12 year olds. 13-14 year olds reported performing planned protective behaviours less often than did 11-12 year olds and 13-14 and 15-16 year olds did not differ significantly. Finally, children in rural areas reported conducting dangerous playing in the road and planned protective behaviours more often than did children in urban areas. The study provided a three-factor classification of adolescent road user behaviour and showed how behavioural performance varied with age, sex and area. These findings may be of use when deciding how to target remedial action to improve the road safety of adolescent road users. However, further research is needed to investigate how the three behaviour factors identified in this study are related to objective measures of risk. Research into why adolescents might carry out these kinds of behaviours has recently been completed - see abstract 'Using the theory of planned behaviour to investigate adolescents' road using behaviour'.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Event7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 6 Jun 20049 Jun 2004


Conference7th World Conference on Injury Prevention and Safety Promotion
CityVienna, Austria


  • road safety
  • injury prevention
  • road accidents


Dive into the research topics of 'Adolescent road users: their behaviour and the effects of demographic variables'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this