Behavior and Road Safety: A Multidimensional Issue — Implications for Road Safety Programmes in Developing Countries

  • G. Gururaj


Road traffic injuries (RTIs) have been increasing at a phenomenal pace in less industrialized countries like India contributing for significant mortality, morbidity and disability. Indian cities have been registering an annual increase of 10–20% RTIs from year to year. Road user’s behavior play a critical role in the complex interwoven process of interaction on the roads as driving and road usage by motorized and non-motorized users, respectively, is a complex, dynamic, unstructured task with considerable variations at regional and local levels. In Bangalore, human behavior among RTIs was examined by using ‘Verbal Reports’ in a series of subjects registered in hospital emergency rooms, ‘Observational Studies’, along with epidemiological surveys and police reports. Two wheeler occupants (34%), pedestrians (31%) and pedal-cyclists (10%) were the major injured groups. A number of behavioral factors were identified depending on — categories of road users, health conditions, type of vehicles used and road conditions. It was noticed that behaviors related to pedestrian road usage, ‘risk taking behavior’ of youth, alcohol usage (16%), driving skills, non-compliance with road safety aspects, and interactions on the road were some of the major hazardous factors. Four major behavioral issues related to ‘speed’, ‘alcohol’, ‘refusal to use protective equipment like helmets’ and ‘respecting road rules’ were responsible for more than 75% of road traffic injuries.

Research in the area of behavior and road safety has primarily focussed on identifying, measuring and intervening with road users in relation to roads and the products being used. This has also been a limitation as society and governments view this in an individualistic approach rather than as a systems approach to road safety. Hence, there is a need to examine this issue from a wider perspective of society and community as a whole along with its individual partners in totality as political will, policymakers understanding, professionals involvement, positive role of media, product safety and public participation are key elements to improve road safety in developing countries. Identifying and ‘Rewarding positive behaviors’ while ‘Restricting negative behaviors’ have not been considered by authorities. The need for behavioral research and its incorporation into safety design of roads and vehicles along with behavior modification of road users is vital to promote road safety in developing countries.


Road Safety Road User Emergency Medical Service System Road Traffic Injury Hospital Emergency Room 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Gururaj
    • 1
  1. 1.National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro SciencesIndia

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