Are drivers' comparative risk judgments about speeding realistic?

  • Delhomme Patricia
  • Verlhiac Jean-François
  • Martha Cécile

  • Judgment realism
  • Self-reported speeding
  • Driving-related sensation-seeking
  • Comparative optimism
  • Comparative pessimism


This study focused on comparative judgments about speeding risks among young drivers, who have a high risk of being involved in a traffic accident. We examined (1) how these drivers assess their risk of sanctions and their risk of causing an automobile crash because of speeding in comparison to the estimated risks of other drivers, and (2) how realistic their comparative risk judgments are. We measured the relationship between the drivers' comparative risk judgments, self-reported speeding, and driving-related sensationseeking. We hypothesized that (1) they would think they have less risk of sanctions and of causing a car accident than others, and (2) their comparative judgments of speeding risks would be linked to self-reported speeding and driving-related sensation-seeking. The study was based on a computerized questionnaire survey conducted with 3002 young drivers (mean age = 22.3) administered by professional investigators. The results confirmed our hypotheses. In order to improve the effectiveness of prevention measures, road-safety interventions should take into account comparative risk judgments about the targeted risk behavior.