Crime and Risky Behavior in Traffic: An Example of Cross-Situational Consistency

Marianne Junger, Robert West, Reinier Timman

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This study looks at the relationship between risky behavior in traffic and criminal behavior. Analyses were based on a random sample of 1531 persons involved in traffic accidents. The data came from two independent police databases: the accident registration system and a national database on offending. Descriptions of the accidents by the police were used to identify individuals who had displayed risky traffic behavior contributing to or causing an accident; evidence of offending was based on a register of contacts with police. This methodology meant that there was no self-selection bias or self-report bias as may occur in survey data. Exposure to traffic accident risk was controlled for. Log-linear analyses, controlling for gender and age, revealed that persons who displayed risky traffic behavior leading to the accident had an odds ratio of 2.6 for having a police record for violent crime; of 2.5 for vandalism, 1.5 for property crime, and 5.3 for having been involved in traffic crime. The results were consistent with the idea of a common factor underlying risky behavior in traffic and criminal behavior. This underlying trait may represent a general disregard for the long term adverse consequences of one's actions and could be labeled risk-taking, impulsiveness, or lack of self-control.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)439-459
JournalJournal of research in crime and delinquency
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • IR-95353

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