Personality and Driving
Even within a group of drivers of a particular age and gender, some are more prone to having accidents than others. It seems likely that personality characteristics play an important role in this. One source of noise comes from the difficulties involved in measuring personality. Most personality theorists attempt to interpret normal behavioural variability in terms of a limited number of dimensions or "traits". Estimates of the number of traits varies, but the current consensus is that five factors are sufficient to explain most aspects of personality, as exemplified in Paul Costa and Robert McCrae's extremely popular OCEAN model. These five factors are usually described as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. In practice, numerous studies have associated high levels of extraversion with increased levels of accident involvement, violations and various other measures of risky driving. Individuals high in conscientiousness are responsible, well-organised, dependable, careful, thorough, self-disciplined and goal-directed. Individuals low in conscientiousness are antisocial, disorganised, impulsive, rebellious and careless.