Personality and Crash Risk


Personality characteristics are associated with many risk behaviors. However, the relationship between personality traits, risky driving behavior, and crash risk is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between personality, risky driving behavior, and crashes and near-crashes, using naturalistic driving research methods. Method: Participants' driving exposure, kinematic risky driving (KRD), high-risk secondary task engagement, and the frequency of crashes and near-crashes (CNC) were assessed over the first 18 months of licensure using naturalistic driving methods. A personality survey (NEO-Five Factor Inventory) was administered at baseline. The association between personality characteristics, KRD rate, secondary task engagement rate, and CNC rate was estimated using a linear regression model. Mediation analysis was conducted to examine if participants' KRD rate or secondary task engagement rate mediated the relationship between personality and CNC. Data were collected as part of the Naturalistic Teen Driving Study. Results: Conscientiousness was marginally negatively associated with CNC (path c = − 0.034, p = .09) and both potential mediators KRD (path a = − 0.040, p = .09) and secondary task engagement while driving (path a = − 0.053, p = .03). KRD, but not secondary task engagement, was found to mediate (path b = 0.376, p = .02) the relationship between conscientiousness and CNC (path c′ = − 0.025, p = .20). Conclusions: Using objective measures of driving behavior and a widely used personality construct, these findings present a causal pathway through which personality and risky driving are associated with CNC. Specifically, more conscientious teenage drivers engaged in fewer risky driving maneuvers, and suffered fewer CNC. Practical Applications: Part of the variability in crash risk observed among newly licensed teenage drivers can be explained by personality. Parents and driving instructors may take teenage drivers' personality into account when providing guidance, and establishing norms and expectations about driving.



Crashes, Teenage drivers, Personality


Ehsani, J. P., Simons-Morton, B. G., Li, K., Perlus, J. G., & O'Brien, F. (2014, August). Personality and Crash Risk. Paper presented at the Fourth International Symposium on Naturalistic Driving Research, Blacksburg, VA. Presentation retrieved from