Self-bias in older drivers’ judgments of accident likelihood.

Carol Holland, Patrick Rabbitt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drivers generally perceive their own chance of having a road accident to be significantly lower, and their own skill to be greater, than that of their peers. Previous research has shown this effect to be reduced in middle-aged drivers as opposed to young ones. This study examines the extent to which this positive self-bias in relation to driving continues or changes with increasing age beyond 50 years, examining the relationship of self-bias to driving experience and also to locus of control. Eighty subjects aged between 50 and 79 completed a self-rating questionnaire on the likelihood of having different types of accidents (driving and nondriving) when in control themselves and when someone else was in control, comparing themselves to “average others” of different ages. In the nondriving accidents, the self-bias for people in their 70s comparing themselves with an average other aged 70, was far greater than for those in their 50s (comparing themselves with an average other aged 50). In the driving accident scenarios there was little self-bias at all when the comparison was with same aged peers only. In this analysis, people in their 50s showed no selfbias, whereas their self-bias had been considerable when comparing themselves with three age groups (30s, 50s, and 70s were used). Amount of positive self-bias generally decreased with increasing age, increased with greater current driving experience (mileage), and increased with amount of perceived control. Number of years of driving experience had no effect. However, in regression analysis on the same aged peers comparison, only internality of locus of control was a significant independent predictor of the variance in self-bias in the driving situation. Age and current driving experience were not significant independent predictors. Results were discussed with reference to the importance of the comparison group when assessing differences in self-bias and to the potential implications for road safety education

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1993


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