Are absolute and comparative judgements about road traffic-risks inherent in speeding realistic? A study among French traffic regulation offenders

  • Martha Cécile
  • Delhomme Patricia

  • Comparative optimism
  • Realistic judgements
  • Absolute judgements
  • Driving-related sensation-seeking
  • Self-reported speeding


A few studies have shown that road users can express realistic risk judgements, in the sense that they perceive higher risk when their behavior is in fact riskier. Our aim was to examine whether the realism of absolute and comparative judgements about speeding risks could be found among an at-risk driver population made of 539 French traffic regulation offenders taking a driving licence points recovery course. The results showed that course takers’ absolute judgements regarding speeding-ticket risk were realistic: the more course-takers had the intention to drive fast and reported driving-related sensation-seeking (DRSS), the more they evaluated themselves as being at risk of having a speeding-ticket. The realism was also observed when considering comparative judgements regarding speeding-ticket risk, but only among the more than 25 years old participants. Moreover, the realism was not observed when considering course takers’ absolute and comparative judgements regarding speeding-induced crash risk. Hence, it is important to increase communication about the dangerousness of speeding among specific groups such as traffic regulation offenders, above all among young course takers who reported high speeds and DRSS.