Regional variations of the road risk in France: A psychosocial study

Author(s): Bec-Gérion, Gaymard

Poster Presentation:




Road safety is a major issue of the 21st century. Despite a significant decline in the accident rate since the 1970s, in 2015, 3.461 persons died in traffic accidents, representing an increase of 2.4% over the last year and being the first mortality cause among the 18-24 years old. This rise is not homogeneously distributed within the country. Indeed, some departments are much more affected than others. Knowing that human factor is responsible for 90% of road fatalities, our research focuses on the interaction between the environment and human behavior to better understand the regional distribution of traffic accidents and investigate the cultural impact on road behaviors.


This communication aims to present certain psychosocial mechanisms behind these regional disparities. The presentation will be articulated around the study of personality and the conditionality of the rules. We hypothesized that people’s environment (e.g. urban/rural, number of bike paths, public transportation access, regional culture, etc.) influence and shape their road behaviors.


Participants, all drivers, answered online self-reported questionnaire composed such as:
- The first part is a psychological part addressing their representation of the road rule, their personality profiles including the following facets: Excitement-seeking, Anxiety, Anger, Altruism, Morality, and their locus of control (Goldbert, 2006; Ozkan, 2005)
- The second part measures their risk aversion and identify “calculated risk-taking” and “legitimate transgressions” (Gaymard, 2014)
- The final part questions their mobility behavior (e.g. ‘How many hours per day during day week do you drive a car?’), their accident history (e.g. ‘How many times did you have an accident at-fault?’), and their social-demographics characteristics (e.g. age, sex, location)


This study is an ongoing research. To date, we have had 2.209 complete answers covering the different regions in France whose 1.761 are young drivers. The end of the data collection is planned in December 2019 and the results will thus be available for the conference.


Discussion will be available for the conference.


The results will impact policy-makers and road safety associations who will have a better understanding of drivers’ road risk-taking since no such study exists in France. It will constitute a more effective basis to target preventive measures (Vaa, Assum, Ulleberg, & Veisten, 2004). Indeed, Salem, Rican and Kürzinger (2006) illustrate the importance of contextualizing socio-economic indicators at the local level. By working on road accidents subject, they notice significant regional variations, referring “in all cases to the existence of real regional differences in how the road is approached”.