Stop there’s water on the road! Identifying key beliefs guiding people’s willingness to drive through flooded waterways
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Floods are among the most widespread of natural disasters and exposure to floodwaters increases drowning risk. A leading cause of flood related drowning deaths is driving through flooded waterways. Drawing on the Theory of Planned Behaviour, a two-phased research program was conducted. Phase 1 (N = 25; Mage = 32.38, SD = 11.46) identified common beliefs about driving through a flooded waterway. Phase 2 (N = 174; Mage = 27.43, SD = 10.76) adopted a cross-sectional design to examine the belief predictors of drivers’ willingness to drive through a flooded waterway. Given differences in consequences due to the depth of water, scenarios of low (road covered in 20 cm of water) and high (road covered in 60 cm of water) risk situations were investigated. A range of beliefs emerged as predicting drivers’ willingness to engage in this unsafe driving behaviour. These included attitudinal beliefs (e.g., sustain vehicle damage, become stuck/stranded), beliefs of social expectations (e.g., pressure from friends, family members, police), and efficacy beliefs (e.g., small distance of water to drive through, presence of signage). The results of the current study support using a Theory of Planned Behaviour belief-based approach to the understanding of risky transport-related aquatic activities. The findings highlight the role that specific key beliefs play in guiding people’s willingness to drive through flooded waterways and, in turn, provide possible targets for future interventions to curb this risky and potentially fatal driving behaviour.
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