The Dangers of Rumination on the Road: Predictors of Risky Driving

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Past studies found many different types of factors can influence dangerous driving behaviors. Driver inattention, such as driving under the influence or using a cell phone while driving, was found to contribute to risky driving behaviors. Rumination is a cognitive process that may also contribute to risky driving behaviors due to its influence on attention and limited executive processes. The present study explores the potential role of rumination in dangerous driving behavior endorsement. It was hypothesized that trait rumination would be significantly related to dangerous driving behaviors and that this relationship would be conditional to the sex of the participant. Six-hundred and fifty-three Southeastern university students were recruited to participate and asked to complete multiple questionnaires measuring anger rumination, thought content, driving anger, and dangerous driving behaviors. It was demonstrated that self-reported risky driving behaviors significantly predicted dangerous driving behavior endorsement on the Dula Dangerous Driving Index. Trait rumination scores were found to predict self-reported dangerous driving, aggressive driving, and risky driving behaviors as well as trait driving anger scores. However, no conditional effects based on the sex of the participant were found. It appeared males and females were equally likely to report dangerous driving behaviors, driving anger thoughts, and trait anger rumination. Findings from the current study may assist in understanding how cognitive processes influence different driving behaviors and help develop methods to re-direct attention to safe driving behaviors, and conversely away from ruminative thoughts that increase the likelihood of dangerous driving.