Traffic Psychology

Traffic psychology is a young, expanding and wide field in psychology.

Traffic psychology is a young, expanding and wide field in psychology. Whereas traffic psychology is primarily related to the study of the behavior of road users and the psychological processes underlying that behavior (Rothengatter, 1997, 223) as well as to the relationship between behavior and accidents, transportation psychology, sometimes referred to as mobility psychology, focuses on mobility issues, individual and social factors in the movement of people and goods, and travel demand management (TDM).There is no single theoretical framework in traffic psychology, but, instead, many specific models explaining, for example, the perceptual, attentional, cognitive, social, motivational and emotional determinants of mobility and traffic behaviour. One of the most prominent behavioral models divides the various tasks involved in traffic participation into three hierarchical levels, i.e. the strategic, the tactical and the operational level. The model demonstrates the diversity of decision and control tasks which have to be accomplished when driving a vehicle. However, until now, most of the psychological models have had a rather heuristic nature, e.g. risk theories such as the risk compensation hypothesis, Fuller's task capability model, and thus are not sufficiently precise to allow for concrete behavioral prediction and control. This is partly due to the importance of individual differences, a major topic of psychology which has not yet been sufficiently accounted for in traffic and transportation. On the other hand, social and psychological attitude/behavior models, such as Ajzen's theory of planned behavior, have been helpful in identifying determinants of mobility decisions.Bringing together the scientific and practical lines, six areas of traffic and transportation psychology can be distinguished (Schlag, 1999):


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