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Why do the same people take risks when driving?

By Tim Sandle     May 5, 2016 in Odd News
Road traffic accidents are serious enough and when someone has had an accident they are normally more cautious next time. Not, however, it seems drunk drivers who are more inclined to repeat the offense. Psychologists explain why.
One thing that has been puzzling psychologists is the number of times a person who has previously been arrested for drunk driving or speeding will repeat the same behaviour. Now investigators from McGill University in Quebec think they have an answer.
The research team looked at men, aged between the years 19-39. After collecting data they proceeded to test their findings in a controlled study. For this they recruited men of a similar age range.
The study participants were split into four groups. Group one was made up of men who had received two or more court convictions for drunk driving. Group two was composed of men who had the misfortune to be given three or more speeding tickets. Group three was made up of men who had received a combination of both speeding offenses and drunk driving convictions. Group four acted as the control group, and none of the members had ever received any kind of conviction or warning.
The men in each group were interviewed, according to Laboratory Roots. Various questions were asked about drinking habits, drug use and addiction. Other questions probed the amount of impulsive behvior or control the men possessed. Also examined was the men’s enjoyment of risky activities and the thrills they obtained in engaging in dangerous activities.
The men were also assessed on their ability for reflective learning, whether, for instance, they learnt from past mistakes. At the same time, the levels of the stress hormone cortisol was examined. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration.
Blood samples were taken and hormonal levels recorded prior to and after each of the men undertook tests using a driving simulator.
While the results showed drunk drivers as having similar attitudes to risk, and a tendency to be impulsive, there were some interesting observations about other types of drivers. Here it was found that the more dangerous drivers were those who did not see themselves as great risk takers. The psychologists are interpreting this as where drivers do not consider their behaviors to be risky, they will not see the need for change and will therefore be more inclined to repeat the behaviour.
The results has been published in the journal PLOS One (“Personality, Executive Control, and Neurobiological Characteristics Associated with Different Forms of Risky Driving.”) In addition, McGill University has produced a video summary of the research:
More about Driving, Risks, Cars, Drunk, Drink driving
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