Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 237–264 | Cite as

Predicted risk perception and risk-taking behavior: The case of impaired driving

  • Georges DionneEmail author
  • Claude Fluet
  • Denise Desjardins


Research suggests an association between risk perception and risk-taking behavior in a variety of contexts. There is empirical evidence that perceived risk is generally biased and that perception of risk influences behavior. Perception of risk can be endogenous. It is therefore more appropriate to instrument risk perception. This article studies the perception of the risks associated with impaired driving and the relation between predicted risk perception and driving behavior. We survey a sample of license-holders, half of whom are drivers with a past conviction for impaired driving, the other half or control group without such conviction. Predicted perceptual biases are shown to influence actual driving behavior.


Risk perception Predicted risk perception Risk-taking behavior Impaired driving Traffic violation Road accident 

JEL Classification

D81 C11 C13 K42 



This research was financed by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec, the Québec Department of Transport, and the Fonds pour la formation et l’aide à la recherche in the FCAR-MTQ-SAAQ program on road safety. Previous versions have been presented at the École Nationale des Arts et Métiers, Paris, at the Risk Attitude Conference, Montpellier, France, and at the FUR XII Conference, Roma. We thank Jean Boudreault, Andrée Brassard, and Lyne Vézina for their collaboration at various stages of this project. Stéphane Messier made an excellent contribution to the preparation and the management of the survey and Claire Boisvert improved significantly the presentation of the original manuscript. We thank Michèle Cohen, the editor, and an anonymous referee for very useful comments.


  1. Andersson, Henrik and Petter Lundborg. (2007). “Perception of Own Death Risk: An Analysis of Road-Traffic and Overall Mortality Risks,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 34, 67–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Antoñanzas, Fernando, W. Kip Viscusi, Joan Rovira, Francisco J. Braña, Fabiola Portillo and Irineu Carvalho. (2000). “Smoking Risks in Spain: Part I—Perception of Risks to the Smoker,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 21(2/3), 161–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arrow, Kenneth J. (1982). “Risk Perception in Psychology and Economics,” Economic Inquiry 20, 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beitel, George A., Michael Sharp, and William D. Glauz. (1975). “Probability of Arrest While Driving under the Influence of Alcohol,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol 36(1), 109–116.Google Scholar
  5. Benson, Bruce L. and David W. Rasmussen. (1999). “Deterring Drunk Driving Fatalities: An Economics of Crime Perspective,” International Review of Law and Economics 19, 205–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borkenstein, Robert F. (1975). “Problems of Enforcement, Adjudication and Sanctioning.” In S. Israelstam and S. Lambert (eds), Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety. Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety, Toronto.Google Scholar
  7. Borkenstein, Robert F., R. F. Crowther, R. P. Shumate, W. B. Ziel, and R. Zylman. (1974). “The Role of the Drinking Driver in Traffic Accidents,” Blutalcohol 11(suppl. 1), 1–132.Google Scholar
  8. Bourgeon, Jean-Marc and Pierre Picard. (2007). “Point-Record Driving Licence and Road Safety: An Economic Approach,” Journal of Public Economics 91, 235–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyer, Marcel and Georges Dionne. (1987). “The Economics of Road Safety,” Transportation Research 21B(5), 413–431.Google Scholar
  10. Brown, Stephen L. and Amy Cotton. (2003). “Risk-Mitigating Beliefs, Risk Estimates, and Self-Reporting Speeding in a Sample of Australian Drivers,” Journal of Safety Research 34, 183–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Combs, Barbara and Paul Slovic. (1979). “Causes of Death: Biased Newspaper Coverage and Biased Judgements,” Journalism Quarterly 56, 837–843.Google Scholar
  12. DeJoy, David. (1989). “The Optimism Bias and Traffic Accident Risk Perception,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 21(4), 333–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. DeJoy, David. (1992). “An Examination of Gender Differences in Traffic Accident Risk Perception,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 24, 237–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dionne, Georges, Jean Pinquet, Mathieu Maurice, and Charles Vanasse. (2007). Point-Record Incentives, Asymmetric Information and Dynamic Data. Mimeo, HEC Montréal and Ecole Polytechnique, France.Google Scholar
  15. Eisenberg, Daniel. (2003). “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Policies Related to Drunk Driving,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 22(2), 249–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Finn, P. and B. Bragg. (1986). “Perception of the Risk of an Accident by Young and Older Drivers,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 18, 289–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Guerin, Bernard. (1994). “What Do People Think About the Risks of Driving? Implications for Traffic Safety Interventions,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 24(11), 994–1021.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hakes, Jahn K. and W. Kip Viscusi. (1997). “Mortality Risk Perceptions: A Bayesian Reassessment,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 15(2), 135–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Homel, Ross. (1989). Policing and Punishing the Drinking Driver: A Study of General and Specific Deterrence. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Job, R. F. Soames. (1990). “The Application of Learning Theory to Driving Confidence: The Effect of Age and the Impact of Random Breath Testing,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 22(2), 97–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kenkel, Donald S. (1993). “Do Drunk Drivers Pay their Way? A Note on Optimal Penalties for Drunk Driving,” Journal of Health Economics 12, 137–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Laberge-Nadeau, Claire, Urs Maag, François Bellavance, Denise Desjardins, Stéphane Messier, and Abdelnasser Saïdi. (2001). Wireless Telephones and the Risk of Road Accidents (Final report). Montréal: Centre for Research on Transportation, Laboratory on Transportation Safety, Université de Montréal, CRT-2001-16.Google Scholar
  23. Levitt, Stephen D. and Jack Porter. (2001). “How Dangerous are Drunken Drivers?” Journal of Political Economy 109(6), 1198–1237.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lichtenstein, Sarah, Paul Slovic, Baruch Fischhoff, Mark Layman, and Barbara Combs. (1978). “Judged Frequency of Lethal Events,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory 4, 551–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Liu, Jin-Tan and Chee-Ruey Hsieh. (1995). “Risk Perception and Smoking Behavior: Empirical Evidence from Taiwan,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 11, 139–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Lundborg, Petter. (2007). “Smoking, Information Sources, and Risk Perceptions—New Results on Swedish Data,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 34, 217–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Magat, Wesley A., W. Kip Viscusi, and Joel Huber. (1987). “Risk–Dollar Tradeoffs, Risk Perceptions, and Consumer Behavior.” In W. Kip Viscusi and Wesley A. Magat (eds), Learning about Risk. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Mannering, Fred L. and Lawrence L. Grodsky. (1995). “Statistical Analysis of Motorcyclists’ Perceived Accident Risks,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 27(1), 21–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Matthews, Michael L. and Andrew R. Moran. (1986). “Age Difference in Male Drivers’ Perception of Accident Risks,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 18(4), 299–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Parker, Dianne, Antony S. Manstead, Stephen G. Stradling, and James T. Reason. (1992). “Intentions to Commit Driving Violations: An Application of the Theory of Planned Behavior,” Journal of Applied Psychology 77(1), 94–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Paternoster, Raymond. (1987). “The Deterrent Effect of the Perceived Certainty and Severity of Punishment: A Review of the Evidence and Issues,” Justice Quarterly 4, 173–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Phelps, Charles. (1987). “Risk and Perceived Risks of Drinking and Driving among Youths,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 6(4), 708–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Polinsky, A. Mitchell and Steven Shavell. (2000). “The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law,” Journal of Economic Literature 38, 45–76.Google Scholar
  34. Rafaely, Vered, Joachim Meyer, Ilena Silberman-Sandler, and Svetlana Viener. (2006). “Perception of Traffic Risks for Older and Younger Adults,” Accident Aanalysis and Prevention 38, 1231–1236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Ryb, Gabriel E., Patricia C. Dischinger, Joseph A. Kufera, and Kathy M. Read. (2006). “Risk Perception and Impulsivity: Association with Risky Behaviors and Substance Abuse Disorders,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 38, 567–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shavell, Steven. (2004). Foundations of Economic Analysis of Law. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Slovic, Paul, Baruch Fischoff, and Sarah Lichtenstein. (1982). “Facts versus Fears: Understanding Perceived Risk.” In Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, and Amos Tversky (eds), Judgement under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Smith, V. Kerry and F. Reed Johnson. (1988). “How Do Risk Perceptions Respond to Information? The Case of Radon,” The Review of Economics and Statistics 70, 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith, V. Kerry, William H. Desvousges, F. Reed Johnson, and Ann Fisher. (1990). “Can Public Information Programs Affect Risk Perceptions?” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 9(1), 41–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. SOM Inc. (1997). A Survey of Québec License Holders. Presented to the Communications Department of the Société de L’assurance Automobile du Québec for the Study of its “Alcohol 97” campaign.Google Scholar
  41. Stasson, Mark and Martin Fishbein. (1990). “The Relation Between Perceived Risk and Preventive Action: A Within-Subject Analysis of Perceived Driving Risk and Intentions to Wear Seatbelts,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 20, 1541–1557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Svenson, Ola, Baruch Fischhoff, and Donald MacGregor. (1985). “Perceived Driving Safety and Seatbelt Usage,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 17(2), 119–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Vanlaar, Ward and George Yannis. (2006). “Perception of Road Accident Causes,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 38, 155–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Viscusi, W. Kip. (1985). “A Bayesian Perspective on Biases in Risk Perception,” Economics Letters 17, 59–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Viscusi, W. Kip. (1990). “Do Smokers Underestimate Risks?” Journal of Political Economy 98(6), 1253–1269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Viscusi, W. Kip. (1992). Smoking: Making the Risky Decision. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Viscusi, W. Kip and Charles J. O’Connor. (1984). “Adaptive Responses to Chemical Labeling: Are Workers Bayesian Decision Makers?” American Economic Review 74, 942–956.Google Scholar
  48. Viscusi, W. Kip, Irineu Carvalho, Fernando Antoñanzas, Joan Rovira, Francisco J. Braña and Fabiola Portillo. (2000). “Smoking Risks in Spain: Part III—Determinants of Smoking Behavior,” Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 21(2/3), 213–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Voas, Robert B., JoAnn Wells, Diane Lestina, Allan Williams, and Michael Greene. (1998). “Drinking and Driving in the United States: the 1996 National Roadside Survey,” Accident Analysis and Prevention 30(2), 267–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Young, Douglas J. and Thomas W. Likens. (2000). “Alcohol Regulation and Auto Fatalities,” International Review of Law and Economics 20, 107–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zaal, Dominic. (1999). Traffic Law Enforcement: A Review of the Literature, Monash University, Institute for Road Safety Measure, Report no. 53.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georges Dionne
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claude Fluet
    • 2
  • Denise Desjardins
    • 3
  1. 1.HEC MontréalCIRPÉE and CIRRELTMontrealCanada
  2. 2.UQAM, CIRPÉE and CIRRELT Département des sciences économiquesUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.CIRRELTUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations