The impact of culture on road safety in Jordan
Submission Date: 2013
People’s lives are substantially influenced by their cultural norms which affect the way they perceive road safety. Culture and lifestyle strongly influence the behaviour of individuals. The road is a social space where individuals from different social backgrounds meet and interact with other road users within their cultural framework. Risk culture may arise from an accumulation of unsafe behaviour patterns that become socially acceptable. This paper is part of a research study investigating the road safety culture in Jordan and whether it differs from countries with alternative cultural norms. Jordanian drivers were surveyed using a self-administered questionnaire, which was designed specifically for this study to match the prevailed culture, to examine whether cultural norms and prevailing traditions were associated with driver attitudes and self-reported road behaviour. Drivers were asked their opinions about their behaviour, attitudes, norms and manners with respect to road safety. Demographic details, penalties and crash history questions were also requested. A total of 545 drivers were surveyed. Results indicate that drivers blame themselves and the government similarly for poor road safety outcomes. Prevailing culture and traditions, such as dealing with hierarchy and social relationships, affect their behaviour on the road and their perception of road safety issues. This is different from drivers’ behaviour and perception in the best performing countries. Drivers’ behaviour on road sometimes contrasted with what they say when they commit errors that they considered a risk hazard when committed by other drivers. Drivers reported high self-image of their driving styles. Drivers gave themselves higher compliance rates with traffic law than they performed in reality. Respondents felt that religious and traditional tolerances are abused in cases of road incidents. Nepotism is thought to have a negative impact on road safety and should be eliminated. Drivers complained about the unfairness of traffic police when they fine different drivers. Drivers reported that they treated or challenged traffic police harshly when they did get fined.