Department of Psychology, Palacky University in Olomouc, Krizkovskeho 8, 771 80 Olomouc, Czech Republic
Factum OHG, Danhausergasse 6/4, A-1040 Vienna, Austria
There is agreement that road user behaviour is the most important contributing factor for traffic accidents. It is therefore essential to understand better the causes of accidents and design remedies that can efficiently treat them. The fatality rate per 10,000 people is about 30 times higher in developing countries than in high-income countries These differences, beside other factors, can be explained in terms of different traffic safety cultures.
The general mission of this work was to contribute to traffic safety by gaining an understanding of the differences in traffic culture in countries worldwide. Furthermore, we sought to explore and understand the needs and beliefs concerning traffic safety in different countries worldwide and the implications for the objective traffic safety situation (Traffic Safety Index – TSI) and for the stage of the economic development of the country (Gross Domestic Product – GDP).
A simple questionnaire with three questions focused on beliefs and opinions about traffic safety was used. Altogether, 142 respondents from 36 countries filled in the questionnaire. The data was analysed using both statistical methods and qualitative analysis of the responses.
The results indicated major differences in the traffic safety cultures embraced by different countries. In general, two approaches to traffic safety culture can be identified. In the first case, traffic safety culture is viewed as an objective reality which the respondents conceive of as leading to greater safety. The second case involves the emphasis being placed particularly on the elimination of a threat to life and health.
People from countries with a poorer traffic safety record tend to underline the importance of traffic safety. No evidence of a relationship between the economic performance of the country (GDP), the traffic safety culture standard, and the Traffic Safety Index was found. Finally, the implications of the results for practice are discussed with a view to the practical implementation of measures to improve traffic safety.
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