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Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Mar;51:84-92. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2012.10.007. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Driver anger on the information superhighway: A content analysis of online complaints of offensive driver behaviour.

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Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


In recent years, several websites have been developed allowing drivers to post their complaints about other motorists online. These websites allow drivers to describe the nature of the offensive behaviour and to identify the offending motorist by vehicle type, colour, and license plate number. Some websites also ask drivers to list the location where the event took place and the exact date and time of the offence. The current study was a content analysis of complaints posted to between 1999 and 2007 (N=5624). The purpose of the study was to: (1) assess the research value of this novel data source; (2) demonstrate the value of content analysis to the study of driver behaviour; (3) further validate an existing coding scheme; (4) determine whether this new data source would replicate previous research findings regarding the most frequent types of driver complaints and temporal distribution of these reports; (5) provide recommendations for improved driver training and public safety initiatives based on these data. A coding scheme that was originally developed for an assessment of complaints submitted to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) (Wickens et al., 2005) was revised to accommodate the new dataset. The inter-rater reliability of the revised coding scheme as applied to the website complaints was very good (kappa=.85). The most frequently reported improper driver behaviours were cutting/weaving, speeding, perceived displays of hostility, and tailgating. Reports were most frequent on weekdays and during the morning and afternoon rush hour. The current study replicated several findings from the analysis of reports to the OPP, but possible differences in the sample and data collection method also produced some differences in findings. The value of content analysis to driver behaviour research and of driver complaint websites as a data source was demonstrated. Implications for driver safety initiatives and future research will be discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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