Personality and

Driving Accidents[1]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mustapha Achoui

 professor

Department of Management

 & Marketing

P.O Box 2018

KFUPM

Al-Dhahran, 31261

Saudia Arabia

 

 

 

March 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abstract

 

Traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia is becoming a major concern as the percentage of accidents in the country is increasing every year.

This empirical study is trying to establish a relationship between types of personality (Type A and Type B) and traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia.

A sample of bus drivers’ accidents records and their scores in Type A Personality Inventory, which measures type A and Type B behaviors, were correlated. A positive correlation was found between type A Personality and bus drivers accidents’ records.

Despite the limitations of this study, its method can be extended in order to study different categories of transportation drivers such as trucks’, buses, taxis’ drivers and drivers in general in Saudi Arabia.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

This study is about personality types of bus drivers in a Saudi Arabian company. The objective of this paper is to attempt to link personality types of bus drivers to their involvement in traffic accidents based on a brief review of the available literature and a number of observations made through a survey.

            The paper is organized in the following manner. First, a formulation of the concern is made. Second, the concepts of personality types A and B are reviewed. Third, a hypothesis is formulated. Fourth, the conducted research is explained. Fifth, the results of the research are interpreted. Finally, the conclusion and limitations of the study are highlighted.

Formulation of the problem

            Since the early 1980s, Saudi Arabia’s transportation infrastructure has dramatically developed. A complex network of roads and highways were built to link the kingdom’s various cities and regions. This reinforced the demand for bus travel to distant cities especially by those who cannot afford the exorbitant costs of air travel. The market responded with the introduction of long-distance bus travel companies and the long-distance bus travel industry took off. Unfortunately, this growth was accompanied by a rise in the rate of accidents in general and bus accidents in particular.

Even today, the long-distance bus industry’s accidents are still on the rise and are claiming the lives of hundreds of people every year. One might explain such accidents as the cause of the lack of highway speed enforcement or the employment of unprofessional and untrained drivers. Perhaps these reasons are valid, but isn’t it necessary to explore other less obvious reasons? Could it be that a driver’s personality type is a contributing factor to his involvement in an accident! In the case of long-distance bus travel the latter is quite possible because drivers are expected to do all of the following:

·        Arrive at very far destinations in an allotted time period.

·        Deal with ongoing traffic problems and dangers.

The way that drivers carry out these responsibilities may vary depending on their personalities. Some may just want to get their work over with, which usually entails excessive speeding and aggressive maneuvering. Naturally, this increases the chances of accidents. Other drivers may be more relaxed and willing to sacrifice time for the sake of safety and comfort. Therefore, the concern lies here in the likelihood of a subtle but strong link between personality types of drivers and their involvements in accidents.  However, traffic accidents cannot be attributed to a personality type only. Several human and environmental factors are involved in accidents but the focus of this paper on the relationship between personality types and traffic accidents.

Before elaborating on this relationship, it is interesting to observe that traffic accidents is a serious concern for Saudi authorities because of increasing percentage of deadly accidents every year. Official statistics show that 4,848 people were killed and 32,361 injured in the Kingdom as a result of 267,772 road accidents in year 2000. Al-Watan newspaper quoted on 27th February, 2002 official statistics of the National Committee for Traffic Safety showing an increase of 13 percent in deaths in the year 2000, compared to the year 1999.

According to the report, the first cause of accidents in the country was speeding, which caused 106,670 accidents, followed by violating traffic lights resulting in 36,042 accidents.

According to the report, the drivers, who are most likely to be involved in accidents, were those between 30-40 years old (15,654 drivers), 18-30 years old (119,124 drivers) and 40-50 years old (85,901 drivers)[2].

Concerning bus accidents, one may note that a large number of studies indicate that bus driving is a stressful occupation characterized by high demands, low control and low support leading to a high risk of physical and mental occupational ill-health. The effects of stress are cumulative with continued exposure and insufficient time for recovery. There are several sources of stress for bus drivers including work overload, time pressures and responsibility for people’s lives. Bus drivers also deal with increasing traffic congestion, difficult passengers and also the boredom and monotony of driving along the same routes for a prolonged period of time. Under these conditions, drivers may become apprehensive, frustrated or angry and respond to traffic conditions with increasing aggression or fatigue (Dorn, Garwood & and Muncie, 2003).

In an analysis of some of the incidents that APS Ltd had been involved in. Over 23,000 incidents involving either a collision (80%) or an injury to a passenger (20%) were recorded on to a database compiled from insurance records. The records contained details pertaining to driver’s service length and age and the circumstances surrounding the incident for all incidents involving any of APS Ltd’s buses across all depots in the UK (Dorn et al., 2003).

Type of personality and bus driving:

            In light of the mentioned concern, it would be interesting to study the Personality Type impact on traffic accidents. Researchers have identified an interesting pair of personality types that serve to differentiate between individuals who are pushy and aggressive (type A personality) and those who are relaxed and patient (type B personality).

            A person who has a type A personality is characterized by a high level of competitiveness, an obsessive ability to work hard and fast under deadline pressures and work overload, and a willingness to cut breaks short to get work done (Evans et al.; 1987). Type A’s has a very strong sense of urgency and is capable of getting a lot of work done even in the presence of distractions (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). Type A’s suffers from irritability, frustration and anxiety because of their overemphasis on unrealistic goals and perfectionism. They tend to lose their tempers, annoy coworkers and commit aggressive and sometimes forceful acts (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). These negativities put type A people at risk of developing coronary disease and other stress related health complications  (Siegel, 1984).

On the other hand, Type B people are the opposite of type A people. They are relaxed, friendly, patient, content and understanding. They exhibit a high degree of tolerance to the shortcomings of others and employ problem solving approaches rather than overwork methods to deal with stressful and difficult issues ((Evans & Palsane, 1987). Evans et al. (1987) concluded from an empirical study of bus drivers in India and the United States that Type A bus drivers had more accidents per month than Type B’s. This result was supported by Suls & Sanders (1988) who argued that Type A’s are more likely to have accidents, to die from accidents and violence.

Research has shown that type B people are more likely to hold top management positions than type A people. This stems from the fact that type B people are more diligent, vigilant and patient at doing their work (Greenberg & Baron, 2003). Type A people are always in a rush which renders their work ineffective and complicates their relationships with others. Therefore, it can be concluded that type A people are suitable for trivial and solitary work that requires efficiency, momentum and speed while type B people are in a better position to engage in tasks that require complexity, sound judgment, good interpersonal communication and precision (Greenberg & Baron, 2003).

From the above discussion of personality types A and B, it can be inferred that type A bus drivers are more likely to be involved in accidents than type B bus drivers. However, a definitive conclusion cannot be easily reached since accidents can be caused by a number of factors other than the personality types of drivers such as driving conditions, bus safety features (e.g. antilock breaks) and other drivers on the road.

Hypothesis

            Based on the above literature review of personality types, the following hypothesis is formulated:

There is appositive correlation between type A Personality bus drivers and traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia.

Method

Instrument

The researcher had used “Type A Personality Inventory” that is improved by Jerabek (1996). This modified inventory is consisted of 17 items. Jerabek had provided the new psychometric characteristics of this Inventory as follows: The mean score of the inventory is: 47 and its standard deviation is 16.05. The standard error of measurement of the inventory is 0.27. The split-half reliability of the inventory based on correlation of forms is .50 while based on Spearman-Brown formula is .67. Its internal consistency based on Cronbach’s coefficient Alpha is .63 and the standard error of measurement is .81.

Siegel (1984) had discussed the early measures and scales of Type A Personality such as The Jenkins Activity Survey (JAS) and The Framingham Type A Scale (FTA). Jenkins noted that the former test (JAS) had a one year test-retest reliability of 0.66 and it could be scored for three factors: hard-driving, speed and impatience, and job involvement. Regarding the correlations between JAS and FTA, Siegel (1984) reported that it ranged from 0.38 to 0.64. He also mentioned that the highest correlations between the two measures were with the speed and impatience JAS score.

This extensive psychometric review by Siegel (1984) and Jerabek (1996) assures the researchers about the reliability and the validity of variant forms of Type A Personality Inventory.      

Sampling:

 The inventory was distributed in the long-distance bus travel company (AA). AA is a Saudi transportation company that was established in the early 1980s to provide bus transportation to countries like Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait. AA has many loyal and experienced drivers who have been with the company for many years. Fifteen of AA’s drivers were asked to supply the following information:

·        The number of years they worked as bus drivers.

·        The number of accidents they were involved in during their careers.

·        Each driver was asked to complete the inventory. Those fifteen drivers represent a convenient sampling method for verifying the above stated hypotheses. This sample was selected for the following reasons: 

·        Their experience on driving allows them to supply a representative number of accidents.

·        The fact that they drive for very long distances makes them unable to control their behavior, which is caused by their personality types, during the durations of these long trips. In other words, the long trips are assumed to “force” the drivers to be who they really are while on the job.

·        Their strong relationships with AA’s owners make them feel comfortable about supplying information about their accidents’ records.

Procedure

Each driver was asked to complete a translated version (English to Arabic) of the inventory. Any ambiguities in the questions were clarified. Each questionnaire measures each respondent’s personality out of 100 points as follows:

Type B                               Mixed                             Type A       

 
Personality Type

0                                           50                                       100

 
      

           

As can be seen, those who score close to 100 points are considered to have personality A and those who score close to 0 points are considered to have personality B. It is reasonable to assume that a person who scores between 50 and 60 points is considered to be in equilibrium (3:1). In addition, those who score below 50 points could be considered type B while those who accumulate above 60 points could be considered very close to being type A.

The data reported bellow show that the drivers are divided to two types (type A and type B) as follows:

Table 1 (Type B Drivers)

 

Name

Personality Type Score

Number of Accidents During Entire Courier (1)

Years of Experience (2)

Average Number of Accidents per Year (1÷2)

Ahmed

0.41

0

5

0

Mohamad

0.41

14

26

0.54

Abdullah

0.47

19

18

1.05

Hamdi

0.47

14

28

0.5

Fawzi

0.53

2

23

0.09

Abdul

0.59

5

19

0.26

Ashraf

0.59

3

24

0.13

Badran

0.59

13

35

0.37

Average

 

 

 

.37

 

 

Table 2 (Type A Drivers)   

 

Name

Personality Type Score

Number of Accidents During Entire Courier (1)

Years of Experience (2)

Average Number of Accidents per Year (1÷2)

Bashir

0.65

17

23

0.74

Fatih

0.65

11

10

1.1

Imran

0.71

31

32

0.97

Zaki

0.71

20

20

1

Farid

0.71

7

25

0.28

Hareth

0.76

6

10

0.6

Samir

0.76

9

8

1.13

Average

 

 

 

.83

            The drivers have been segregated into two groups. The first group is consisted of eight drivers who have scored below 60 points on the personality type questionnaire, which means that they have personality B (see Table 1). The second group is consisted of seven drivers who have scored above 60 points on the personality type questionnaire, which means that they have personality A (see Table 2). Every personality type score is compared to the average number of accidents per year (no. of accidents during entire career/years of experience). A columnar graphic comparison of these variables is shown below. Every driver’s average number of accidents per year has been calculated for the sake of making comparisons between drivers. It is not reasonable to use the raw number of accidents in this survey because drivers have different lengths of driving experience.

Results

Graphs 1 and 2 show personality types scores for type A and B drivers, respectively, in ascending order. Every driver’s personality type score is compared with his average number of accidents per year on the same graph. It is evident from Graph 1 that most of type B drivers do not have accidents that are in excess of .5 accidents per year.

Graph 2 on the other hand shows that most of type A drivers have accidents that are in excess of .75 accidents per year. In fact, the average number of accidents per year for all the drivers in Graphs 1 and 2 are .37 and .83, respectively. In other words, the type A driver is involved in an average of .83 accidents per year while the type B driver is involved in an average of .37 accidents per year. This difference supports the assertion that there is  a correlation between the personality type of the drivers and the number of accidents they have committed.

 

Graph 1 (Type B Drivers)

Graph 2 (Type A Drivers)

Graph 3 (Type A and B Drivers)

 

 

 

Graph 4 (Type A and B Drivers)

            Based on the above assertion, it should be expected that the average number of accidents per year increases as the personality type score increases. However, Graphs 1 and 2, show that as the average personality type score linearly increases, the average number of accidents linearly decreases. Furthermore, when all the drivers’ personality scores (type A and B) are placed in ascending order on the same graph, the average number of accidents linearly increases (see Graph 3). Of course, this is caused by the amalgamation of the low accident rates of type B drivers and the high accident rates of type A drivers. Nevertheless, Graph 3 shows that there is a positive relationship between the drivers' personality types and the number of their driving accidents.

            The linear decreasing of the average number of the accidents on Graphs 1 and 2 can be explained in another way. The driver named here as "Nizar" on Graph 1 seems to have an average accident rate that is much higher than his peers, which disturbed the trend line of the average number of accidents per year. Similarly, the very low average number of accidents for the driver "Mohammad" in Graph 2 disturbed the trend line of the average number of accidents per year. Perhaps if a higher number of drivers were surveyed in every personality type group, the trend line of the average number of accidents per year may have gone undisturbed.  

            The linear relationship between personality types' scores of all drivers and their related average number of accidents per year is shown on Graph 4. It is clear from the trend line on the graph that there is a linear positive relationship between the two variables. In fact, the Spearman’s Rank Correlation (SRC) coefficient of the two variables is .49. SRC measures the degree of linear relationship between two variables. It does not use the actual observed data, but the ranks of the data, to compute a correlation coefficient. That is, the smallest X value is replaced with a 1, the next smallest with a 2, and so on. The same procedure is repeated for the Y values. Use of SRC is needed when small samples are used because it eliminates the disturbances caused by outliers (see Appendix 2). The correlation coefficient, which is .49 (P=.05) indicates a significant relationship between personality types of bus drivers and the average number of accidents they are involved in.

Discussion and Conclusion

            From the interpretation of the results of the survey, it can be cautiously concluded that there is a relationship between personality types of drivers and the number of accidents they commit. However, there are a number of limitations in this survey which are highlighted below:

·        Since the persons surveyed have been working as drivers for decades, it was difficult for them to recall all the accidents they were involved in.

·        The assumption that type A people should have a personality type score of above 60 is debatable. The study involved the separation of personality types into two groups based on personality type scores. Each personality type group was assigned an average number of accidents per year, which was used to make comparisons and generalizations. If the group separation criteria (type B<50, type A>60) proves to be inaccurate then a regrouping of drivers would be necessary.

·        The fact that drivers who have a personality type score between 50 and 60 were included in the type B group could be problematic.

·        A larger sample size may have been useful for this study.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Dorn, L. G.; L.; Muncie, H. (2003). The Accidents and Behaviours of Bus Drivers.

    Behavioural Research in Road Safety: 12th Seminar, Department for Transport, 

    Dublin, HMSO.

Evans, W. G.; Palsane, M. N.; Carrere, S. (1987). Type A Behavior and Occupational 

   Stress: A Cross-Cultural Study of Blue-Collar Workers. Journal of Personality and 

   Social Psychology, vol. 52, No 5, 1002-1007.

Greenberg, J.; Robert A. Baron, A. R. (2003). Behavior in Organizations, 8th Edition.

   New Jersey, Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Jerabek, I. (1996). Type A Personality Inventory. Queendom.com,

   http://www.queendom.com/tests/personality/type_a_access.html

Siegel, M. J. (1984). Type A Behavior: Epidemiologic Foundations and Public Health

   Implications. Annual Review of Public Health, 5:343-67. 

Suls, J.; Sanders, G. S. (1988). Type A Behavior as a general Risk Factor for Physical

    Disorder. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, vol. 11, No 3, 201-226. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] This study was supported by a grant from KFPUM.

[2] Source: http://www.saudinf.com/main/c6e.htm[2]