Comparing car drivers’ and motorcyclists’ opinions about junction crashes

Robbins, Chloe J., Allen, Harriet A. and Chapman, Peter (2018) Comparing car drivers’ and motorcyclists’ opinions about junction crashes. Accident, Analysis and Prevention, 117 . pp. 304-317. ISSN 0001-4575

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Motorcyclists are involved in a disproportionate number of crashes given the distance they travel, with a high proportion of these crashes occurring at junctions. Despite car drivers being solely responsible for many road crashes involving a motorcycle, previous research has mostly focussed on understanding motorcyclists’ attitudes towards their own safety.

We compared car drivers’ (n = 102) and motorcyclists’ (n = 579) opinions about junction crashes using a web-based questionnaire. Motorcyclists and car drivers were recruited in similar ways so that responses could be directly compared, accessing respondents through driver/rider forums and on social media. Car drivers’ and motorcyclists’ opinions were compared in relation to who they believe to be blameworthy in situations which varied in specificity, ranging from what road user they believe is most likely to cause a motorcyclist to have a road crash, to what road user is at fault in four specific scenarios involving a car and motorcycle at a junction. Two of these scenarios represented typical ‘Right of way’ (ROW) crashes with a motorcycle approaching from the left and right, and two scenarios involved a motorcycle overtaking another vehicle at the junction, known as ‘Motorcycle Manoeuvrability Accidents’ (MMA). Qualitative responses were analysed using LIWC software to detect objective differences in car drivers’ and motorcyclists’ language.

Car drivers’ and motorcyclists’ opinions about the blameworthiness of accidents changed depending on how specific the situation was that was being presented. When respondents were asked about the cause of motorcycle crashes in a general abstract sense, car drivers’ and motorcyclists’ responses significantly differed, with motorcyclists more likely to blame car drivers, demonstrating an in-group bias. However, this in-group favouritism was reduced when asked about specific scenarios, especially in MMA situations which involve motorcyclists manoeuvring their motorcycles around cars at a junction. In the four specific scenarios, car drivers were more likely to blame the car driver, and motorcyclists were more likely to blame the motorcyclist. In the typical ROW scenarios, the responses given by both road users, as analysed by the LIWC, show that the law is taken into account, as well as a large emphasis on the lack of observation given around junctions, especially from car drivers. It is concluded that the perception of blameworthiness in crashes is very much dependent on the details of the crash, with a more specific situation eliciting a fairer evaluation by both car drivers and motorcyclists.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Blame; Junctions; Motorcycles; Right of Way; Opinions
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Robbins, Chloe
Date Deposited: 18 Jun 2018 09:10
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:48

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