Cultural Differences-Induced Mistakes in Driving Behaviour: An Opportunity to Improve Traffic Policy and Infrastructure

  • Václav LinkovEmail author
  • Petr Zámečník


Driving a vehicle is a complex task influenced by many factors, including cultural differences. When a driver with a certain cultural background drives in a foreign environment, their natural reaction to traffic situations might be unsuitable, so they can make a mistake in the comprehension of a traffic situation or in their reaction. In this chapter, we review theories of cultural differences, differences in driving behaviours in various cultures, and examples of driving mistakes induced by foreign cultural backgrounds. People in different countries are used to driving with a different level of aggressiveness, traffic signs that are positioned in different ways, and some specific-to-their-country traffic signs. These mistakes might inspire governments to change policies regarding traffic rules and improve infrastructure so that foreign drivers more easily adapt to the new environment. Such changes might include making traffic signs easier to comprehend, the usage of special traffic signs for foreigners, and governmental campaigns to educate foreign drivers.


Mistakes Errors Failure Driving behaviour Driving mistakes Traffic infrastructure Traffic signs Cultural differences 



This chapter was produced with the financial support of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports within National Sustainability Programme I, a project of the Transport R&D Centre (LO1610), on a research infrastructure acquired from the Operation Programme Research and Development for Innovations (CZ.1.05/2.1.00/03.0064).


  1. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atchley, P., Shi, J., & Yamamoto, T. (2014). Cultural foundations of safety culture: A comparison of traffic safety culture in China, Japan and the United States. Transportation Research Part F, 26, 317–325. Scholar
  3. Awad, E., Dsouza, S., Kim, R., Schulz, J., Heinrich, J., Shariff, A., Bonnefon, J.-F., & Rahwan, I., (2018). The moral machine experiment. Nature, 563, 59–64. Scholar
  4. Banakar, R., & Fard, S.N. (2012). Driving dangerously: Law, culture, and driving habits in Iran. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 39(2), 241-251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bartłomiejczyk, M. (2013). Text and image in traffic signs. Linguistica Silesiana, 34, 111-131.Google Scholar
  6. (2016). New safety campaign focuses on visiting drivers. Retrieved 10 September 2019, from
  7. Castillo-Manzano, J.I., Castro-Nuño, M., López-Valpuesta, L., & Vassallo, F. (in press). An assessment of road traffic accidents in Spain: the role of tourism. Current Issues in Tourism. Scholar
  8. Chen, R., & Hwang, K.-K. (2016). Nation, Face, and Identity: An Initial Investigation of National Face in East Asia. Frontiers in Psychology, 7:1557.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Elias, W., Blank-Gomel, A., Habib-Matar, C., & Shiftan, Y. (2016). Who are traffic offenders among ethnic groups and why? Accident Analysis and Prevention, 91, 64–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fleiter, J.J., & Watson, B. (2016). Addressing the road trauma burden in China: Exploring attitudes, behaviours, risk perceptions and cultural uniqueness. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 95, 326–333.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (2013). Foreign Office launches road safety Campaign for living abroad. Retrieved 10 September 2019, from
  12. Giebels, E., Oostinga, M.S.D., Taylor, P.J., & Curtis, J.L. (2017). The cultural dimension of uncertainty avoidance impacts police-civilian interaction. Law and Human Behavior, 41, 93–102. Scholar
  13. Glaser, Y.G., Guo, F., Fang, Y., Deng, B., & Hankey, J. (2017). Investigate moped-car conflicts in China using a naturalistic driving study approach. Journal of Safety Research, 63, 171-175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Grilli, G., & Notaro, S. (2019). Exploring the influence of an extended theory of planned behaviour onpreferences and willingness to pay for participatory natural resources management. Journal of Environmental Management, 232, 902–909.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Habich-Sobiegalla, S., Kostka, G., & Anzinger, S. (2019). Citizens’ electric vehicle purchase intentions in China: An analysis of microlevel and macro-level factors. Transport Policy, 79, 223–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Huang, Y.-H., Zhang, W., Roetting, M., & Melton, D. (2006). Experiences from dual-country drivers: Driving safely in China and the US. Safety Science, 44, 785–795. Scholar
  18. Jahoda, G. (2012). Critical reflections on some recent definitions of “culture”. Culture & Psychology, 18, 289–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jeon, M., Riener, A., Lee, J.-H., Schuett, J., & Walker, B.N. (2012). Cross-cultural differences in the use of in-vehicle technologies and vehicle area network services: Austria, USA, and South Korea. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Automotive User Interfaces and Interactive Vehicular Applications (AutomotiveUI ’12), New York, ACM, pp. 163–170.Google Scholar
  20. Lajunen, T., Corry, A., Summala, H., & Hartley, L. (1998). Cross-cultural differences in drivers’ self-assessments of their perceptual-motor and safety skills: Australians and Finns. Personality and Individual Differences, 24, 539–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Large, D.R., Burnett, G., Crundall, E., Lawson, G., Skrypchuk, L., & Mouzakitis, A. (2019). Evaluating secondary input device to support an automotive touchscreen HMI: A gross-cultural simulator study conducted in the UK and China. Applied Ergonomics, 78, 184–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Large, D.R., Burnett, G., & Mohd-Hasni, Y. (2017). Capturing cultural differences between UK and Malaysian drivers to inform the design of in-vehicle navigation systems. International Journal of Automotive Engineering, 8, 112–119. Scholar
  23. Lee, Y.M., Shepard, E., & Crundall, D. (2015). Cross-cultural effects on the perception and appraisal of approaching motorcycles at junctions. Transportation Research Part F, 31, 77–86. Scholar
  24. Li, Ch., Wang, W., Guo, H., & Dietrich, A. (2018a). Cross-cultural analysis of young drivers’ preferences for in-vehicle systems and behavioral effects caused by secondary tasks. Sustainability, 10, 4083. Scholar
  25. Li, L.M.W., Masuda, T., Hamamura, T., & Ishii, K. (2018b). Culture and Decision Making: Influence of Analytic Versus Holistic Thinking Style on Resource Allocation in a Fort Game. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 19, 1066–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu, J., Wen, H., Zhu, D., & Kumfer, W. (2019). Investigation of the contributory factors to the guessability of traffic signs. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16, 162, Scholar
  27. Lund, I.O., & Rundmo, T. (2009). Cross-cultural comparisons of traffic safety, risk perception, attitudes and behaviour. Safety Science, 47, 547-553.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marshall, W. E. (2018). Understanding international road safety disparities: Why is Australia so much safer than the United States? Accident Analysis and Prevention, 111, 251–265. Scholar
  29. Melinder, K. (2007). Socio-cultural characteristics of high versus low risk societies regarding road traffic safety. Safety Science, 45, 397–414. Scholar
  30. Minkov, M. Dutt, P., Schachner, M., Jandosova, J., Khassenbekov, Y., Morales, O., et al. (2019). What would people do with thein money if they were rich? A search for Hofstede dimensions across 52 countries. Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, 26, 93–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ng, A.W.Y., & Chan, A.H.S. (2007). Culture issues in traffic sign usability. In Aykin, N. (2007, ed.): Usability and Internationalization, Part I, HCII 2007, LNCS 4559. Berlin Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag, pp. 379–387.Google Scholar
  32. Nisbett, R.E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and systems of thought: holistic versus analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108, 291–310. Scholar
  33. Nordfjærn, T., Simsekoglu, Ö., & Rundmo, R. (2014a). Culture related to road traffic safety: A comparison of eight countriesusing two conceptualizations of culture. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 62, 319–328. Scholar
  34. Nordfjærn, T., Simsekoglu, Ö., Zavareh, M.F., Hezaveh, A.M., Mamdoohi, A.M., & Rundmo, R. (2014b). Road traffic culture and personality traits related to traffic safety in Turkish and Iranian symplex. Safety Science, 66, 36–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nordfjærn, T., & Zahadeh, M.F. (2016). Individualism, collectivism and pedestrian safety: A comparative study of young adults from Iran and Pakistan. Safety Science, 87, 8–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Orru, K., Poom, A., & Nordlund, A. (2019). Socio-structural and psychological factors behind car use: Comparing Northern and Eastern Europe. Transportation Research Part A, 119, 113–125.Google Scholar
  37. Özkan, T., Lajunen, T., Chliaoutakis, J.E., Parker, D., & Summala, H. (2006). Cross-cultural differences in driving behaviours: A comparison of six countries. Transportation Research Part F, 9, 227–242. Scholar
  38. Quintal, V.A., Lee, J.A., & Soutar, G.N. (2010). Tourists’ information search: The differential impact of risk and uncertainty avoidance. International Journal of Tourism Research, 12, 321–333. Scholar
  39. Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (2019). Top 10 driving tips for visitors in Australia. Retrieved 10 September 2019, from
  40. Safer Journeys (2019). Overseas licences crash statistics questions and answers. Retrieved 10 September 2019, from
  41. Sârbescu, P., Stanojevic´, P., & Jovanovic´, D. (2014). A cross-cultural analysis of aggressive driving: Evidence from Serbia and Romania. Transportation Research Part F, 24, 210–217. Scholar
  42. Shinar, D., Dewar, R. E., Summala, H., & Zakowska, L. (2014). Traffic sign symbol comprehension: A cross-cultural study. Ergonomics, 1549–1565. Scholar
  43. Shinohara, Y., & Nishizaki, Y. (2018). Where Do Drivers Look When Driving in a Foreign Country? In R. Lee (ed.), Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Networking and Parallel/Distributed Computing, Studies in Computational Intelligence 721, Springer, 151–163. Scholar
  44. Simsekoglu, Ö, Nordfjærn, T., & Rundmo, R. (2012). Traffic risk perception, road safety attitudes, and behaviors among road users: a comparison of Turkey and Norway. Journal of Risk Research, 15, 787–800. Scholar
  45. Summala, H. (1998). American drivers in Europe: Different signing policy may cause safety problems at uncontrolled intersections. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 30(2), 285–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Timmermans, Ch., Alhajyaseen, W., Reinolsmann, N., Nakamura, H., & Suzuki, K. (in press). Traffic safety culture of professional drivers in the State of Qatar. IATSS Research, Scholar
  47. Uzondu, Ch., Jamson, S., & Lai, F. (2019). Investigating unsafe behaviours in traffic conflict situations: An observational study in Nigeria. Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering. Scholar
  48. Üzümcüoglu, Y., Özkan, T., & Lajunen, T. (2018). The relationships between cultural variables, law enforcements and driver behaviours across 37 nations. Transportation Research Part F, 58, 743–753.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Vollero, A., Siano, A., Palazzo, M., & Amabile, S. (2019). Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and corporate social responsibility in online communication: Are they independent constructs? Corporate Social Responsibility and Environment Management. Scholar
  50. Wang, W., Cheng, Q., Li, Ch., André, D., & Jiang, X. (2019). A cross-cultural analysis of driving behavior under critical situations: A driving simulator study. Transportation Research Part F, 62, 483–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Ward, S.J., Wogalter, M.S., & Melcer, A.W. (2004). Comprehension and training of international road signs. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting, 48, 2104–2108.Google Scholar
  52. Warner, H. W., Özkan, T., & Lajunen, T. (2009). Cross-cultural differences in drivers’ speed choice. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 41, 816–819. Scholar
  53. Warner, H. W., Özkan, T., Lajunen, T., & Tzamalouka, T. (2011). Cross-cultural comparison of drivers’ tendency to commit different aberrant driving behaviours. Transportation Research Part F, 14, 390–399. Scholar
  54. Warner, H. W., Özkan, T., Lajunen, T., & Tzamalouka, T. (2013). Cross-cultural comparison of driving skills among students in four different countries. Safety Science, 57, 69–74. Scholar
  55. Wu, Ch., Chu, W., Zhang, H., & Özkan, T. (2018). Interactions between Driving Skills on Aggressive Driving: Study among Chinese Drivers. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2672 (31), 10–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Yannis, G., Golias, J., & Papadimitriou, E. (2007). Accident risk of foreign drivers in various road environments. Journal of Safety Research, 38, 471–480. Scholar
  57. Yoh, K., Okamoto, T., Inoi, H., & Doi, K. (2017). Comparative study on foreign drivers’ characteristics using traffic violation and accident statistics in Japan. IATSS Research, 41, 94–105. Scholar
  58. Zhang, X., Xiang, H., Wheeler, K. K., Smith, G. A., & Stallones, L. (2010). Road traffic injuries to foreigners in the People’s Republic of China, 2000-2008. Journal of safety research, 41(6), 521–523. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CDV – Transport Research CentreBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations