Demographic, driving experience, and psychosocial predictors of adolescent distracted driving beliefs

Academic Article


  • Purpose: The current study had three aims: 1) describe distracted driving beliefs among adolescents by various distraction types (i.e., talking on a hands-free/hands-held cell phone, texting or emailing, taking “selfies,” and updating/checking social media); 2) examine the factor structure of distracted driving beliefs; and 3) test whether individual difference factors, shown in prior work to be related to distracted driving behavior, significantly predicted factors of distracted driving beliefs. Methods: Three hundred seventy-nine high school students enrolled in non-mandatory Driver's Education courses completed surveys of distracted driving beliefs, sensation seeking, and demographics. Results: A factor analysis revealed four factors of distracted driving beliefs: 1) self-acceptance of interacting with a cell phone while driving; 2) perceived peer acceptance of interacting with a cell phone while driving; 3) perceived threat of distracted driving to personal safety; and 4) self- and peer- acceptance of talking on a cell phone while driving. Adolescents perceived a greater threat to safety and less self- and peer-acceptance of interacting with cell phones while driving (i.e., texting/emailing, updating/posting to social media, taking selfies) than talking on a cell phone while driving. In general, men, those with more driving experience, higher in sensation seeking, and those placing more importance on checking notifications on a phone had riskier beliefs about distracted driving. Conclusion: Findings suggest adolescent distracted driving beliefs are influenced by individual difference factors, providing some knowledge about the motivations for distracted driving. Future work should consider novel strategies for intervening to reduce this common yet extremely dangerous behavior among adolescents.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Stavrinos D; McManus B; Beck H
  • Volume

  • 144