transfer 22(3) » Rezeptions- und Wirkungsforschung

The force of habit?

The effect of habits on texting while driving and its risk perception

With the advent of the smartphone in cars, greater scientific and societal attention has been attracted towards texting while driving (TWD) and the hazards by which it is accompanied. Numerous studies found that drivers acknowledged the risks of TWD but still engaged in this behaviour, showing drivers’ noncompliance with their risk perception. The thesis aims at shedding light on this inconsistency, namely by using habits as an explanation. The relationship between texting habit, TWD and its risk perception were analysed. For this reason, a quantitative online survey was conducted (N = 523). The results showed that drivers engaged in TWD but depending on the traffic situation. Texting habit and the affective risk perception predicted significantly TWD whereas the cognitive risk perception was non-significant with TWD. Texting habit and risk perception did not influence each other. Explorative analysis revealed that texting habit moderated the relationship between affective risk perception and TWD. Participants with stronger texting habits engaged more often in TWD even when their risk perception was high, compared to participants with lower habit strength. These findings give a valuable insight into the discrepant behaviour of drivers’ texting. A strong habit overrules one’s awareness of risks. These findings provide directions for future research as well as to the public to curb this dangerous driving behaviour.