Researchers Study Motivations for Speeding

Car driving by a speed limit signResearchers at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) and Battelle have found that while reasons for speeding are based on a wide variety of factors, previous ideas about speeder demographics and personality types were confirmed. This information can be used to identify improved speeding countermeasures.

The reasons vary based on a variety of situational, demographic and personality factors. Researchers found that men are more likely to speed during a trip than women, while younger drivers are more likely to speed than older drivers. Also, speeding is associated with personality factors that are linked with reckless driving and road rage.

“These were somewhat expected outcomes,” said TTI Associate Research Scientist Laura Higgins. “This information confirmed previous suspicions.”

The study involved participants in both urban (Seattle, Wash.) and rural (College Station, Texas) areas. Participants had global positioning system (GPS) units and on-road speed recorders installed in their vehicles to track locations and speeds for up to four weeks.

New information suggests that there is no pattern in the amount of speeding during a given trip — meaning that the amount a person drives over the speed limit and the time spent speeding during a trip are completely situational. For example, a person driving dangerously, such as running a red light, may temporarily be in a hurry but may not have a personality associated with reckless driving.

The researchers also created focus groups to evaluate opinions about the challenges and benefits of speeding countermeasures.

The study found that speed deterrents such as police enforcement, public awareness campaigns and driver education classes are limited in their effectiveness because they only provide occasional feedback to drivers. Also, the effectiveness of countermeasures depends on how the messages are received. For example, police officers are not always nearby when someone speeds. Researchers believe that adding unpredictability to countermeasures such as random police patrolling will help improve these limitations.

Participants were also asked about in-vehicle devices such as those that would display fuel efficiencies at each speed. These were accepted more than devices that would limit engine speeds.

Read the full study at http://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/811658.pdf.