Emotions, behaviour, and the adolescent driver: A literature review

  • Published: Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 50, 1-37, June 2017
  • Authors: Scott-Parker, B.
  • Date Added: 12 Jan 2018
  • Last Update: 12 Jan 2018
  • Format: html


Article aimed at summarising the literature on the subject of adolescent emotions, behaviour (with particular respect to the road situations) and their interrelationships.  


Review of peer-reviewed articles devoted to the subjects of emotions, behaviour and the adolescent driver. 103 peer reviewed articles on adolescents’ emotions, behaviour and driving were considered. The subject of 44 of them were emotions and the adolescent; 23 of them concerned emotions, the adolescent and driving risks; 30 articles were devoted to emotions, the adolescent and risky driving behaviour; and 6 of them pertained to the adolescent and road safety interventions.

Key Findings:

  • Due to the process of cognitive development the adolescents are undergoing, their behaviour is highly susceptible to emotional distortions that can appear while being on the road as well as before entering the car.

  • They can be facilitated by the type of driver’s personality as well as by the driving environment. Negative emotions and traits related to the ‘Type A’ personality are considered to contribute to undertaking risky behaviours.

  • Their throttling may be difficult, since adolescence is characterised as a developmental stage when certain delay in emotional regulation is observed.

  • Nevertheless, the negative emotions are not the only ones that can heighten exposure to road hazards. Whereas they have particular behavioural aftermaths and are found to delay hazard perception, the positive effects are on the other hand associated with decreased risk appreciation.

  • Peer passengers are considered to be particularly influential in this context, since they are a salient, immediate and emotionally-charged source of social rewards and thus also a source of certain behaviours’ reinforcement.