Master's Thesis Defense - Nazi Faisal Chowdhury
- Wednesday, April 29, 2015 at 11:20am
- Roberts Hall - view map
EFFECTS OF SOCIAL INFORMATION ON DRIVING COURTESY
Aggressive driving, defined as a behavior that intentionally endangers other road users psychologically, physically, or both, has been considered the second most serious issue in road safety, after driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and drugs. Researchers have tried to understand the factors involved in driving aggression, but on the other side of it, there has been little research on driving courtesy. Driving courtesy, defined as a polite and safer action or reaction of driver to other road users on the road. This research approaches the problem of traffic safety by focusing on both, factors that encourage driving courtesy and factors that provoke driving aggression. Three such factors were identified through an intensive literature review and three focus groups. These three factors, self-identity (anonymous or identifiable on the road), recent driving experience (good or bad behavior of other drivers on the road) and group affiliation (social identity of other drivers as in- or out-group) were tested for their significance in driving courtesy and aggression through a vignette survey. The vignette stories were developed using the two courtesy-encouraging scenarios and the two aggression-provoking scenarios, which had been identified in the focus groups as common and important in traffic safety. The repeated measure logistic regression model was used to analyze the responses and all three factors were found to be statistically significant predictors of driving behavior towards other drivers on the road. Moreover, it was found that these factors can be used in reducing aggression as measured in aggression-provoking scenarios and also promoting courtesy as measured in courtesy-encouraging scenarios. Sharing in-group information and being identifiable promote courtesy, and being courteous on the road helps to get a better environment where the drivers receive a good driving experience in general. Since it was identified that having had a recent good driving experience helps to reduce aggression, it was concluded that promoting courtesy can reduce aggression. Because group affiliation and self-identity were identified as significant factors that could affect driving behavior, a feasibility study was conducted in which drivers could share social group identity with other drivers on the road through Connected Vehicle Systems (CVS) or similar technology. The results verified the vignette survey experiment, showing that sharing common group identity does indeed reduce aggression and also promote courtesy, although sharing out-group identity could provoke aggression.