Individual difference factors in risky driving among older adults

David C. Schwebel, Karlene K. Ball, Joan Severson, Benjamin K. Barton, Matthew Rizzo, Sarah M. Viamonte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Introduction: Motor-vehicle crashes kill roughly 4,500 American adults over the age of 75 annually. Among younger adults, one behavioral factor consistently linked to risky driving is personality, but this predictor has been overshadowed by research on cognitive, perceptual, and motor processes among older drivers. Method: In this study, a sample of 101 licensed drivers, all age 75 and over, were recruited to complete self-report measures on personality, temperament, and driving history. Participants also completed a virtual environment (VE) course designed to assess risk-taking driving behavior. State records of motor-vehicle crashes were collected. Results: Results suggest both a sensation-seeking personality and an undercontrolled temperament are related to risky driving among older adults. Sensation-seeking was particularly related to history of violations and tickets, while temperamental control was more broadly related to a number of risky driving measures. Methodological and crash prevention issues are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-509
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Safety Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Older adults
  • Personality
  • Risky driving
  • Virtual environments

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality


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