Impact of impulsiveness, venturesomeness, and empathy on driving by older adults

Academic Article


  • Problem: Although personality characteristics such as impulsiveness have been linked to the driving safety and driving habits of young and middle-aged adults, little research has focused on the role of personality in older driver behavior. Method: Using the IVE questionnaire in an exploratory study, three personality dimensions (impulsiveness, venturesomeness, and empathy) were measured in 305 older drivers (ages 57-87 years old). In addition, the Driving Habits Questionnaire was used to estimate driving exposure, and the Driver Behavior Questionnaire (DBQ) was used to estimate driving errors and violations. State-recorded crash data were made available by the state public safety agency. Results: Subjects who reported four or more driving errors had higher impulsivity and empathy scores and lower venturesomeness scores. Subjects reporting driving violations were more likely to have high impulsivity scores. Driving six or more places per week was associated with lower levels of impulsivity. Impact: These results suggest that a comprehensive understanding of driving problems among older adults should also include a consideration of personality dimensions. In doing so, the challenges faced in the interpretation of self-report instruments on driving behaviors must be acknowledged, with a move in research toward greater reliance on more objective measures of driving behavior when assessing the impact of personality variables. © 2003 National Safety Council and Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Owsley C; McGwin G; McNeal SF
  • Start Page

  • 353
  • End Page

  • 359
  • Volume

  • 34
  • Issue

  • 4