Observational studies of drivers' involvements in dangerous situations suggest that young males drive differently from other road users. Studies of drivers' assessments of their own ability appear to show that they believe they drive better than their peers and that, while young males equate their ability with that of older male drivers, the latter group see themselves as superior to their younger counterparts but of equivalent ability to peers. It is unclear from previous studies what the influence of driving experience is on such assessments and, indeed, what female drivers feel about their ability. The present studies suggest that the widely reported tendency for people to overestimate their ability may be largely artifactual, that males and females describe their performance similarly, and that previously reported age differences disappear when driving experience is controlled. Among the differences that remain is the reported greater "recklessness" and comparative lack of "smoothness" of young males' driving. The implications of these findings for our understanding of risk assessment and acceptance are discussed. © 1989.
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