Current Psychology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 115–120 | Cite as

Distracted Driving Among College Students: Perceived Risk Versus Reality



Although the rate of alcohol-impaired driving among adolescents has declined in the past two decades, distracted driving has become a major public safety concern. The present study compared perceptions of accident risk and social norms related to cell phone use while driving (CPWD), as well as alcohol-impaired driving, with self-reported behavior among a sample of 726 college students. Results indicated that although participants perceived sending text messages while driving as posing a similar accident risk as driving while legally intoxicated, they were much more likely to text behind the wheel. Furthermore, participants perceived their peers as being more accepting of and having more liberal views toward CPWD than their own, suggesting that one factor underlying the discrepancy between perceived risk and risk exposure may be the level of social acceptability attributed to texting while driving. Future interventions may benefit from focusing not only on risk perception, but on social norms, legal consequences, and adaptive alternatives.


Cell phone use while driving Risk perception Social norms 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyElmira CollegeElmiraUSA
  2. 2.Clinical PracticeBathUSA

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