Psychological predictors of texting while driving among university students

F. Prat, M. E. Gras, M. Planes, B. González-Iglesias, M. J.M. Sullman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although text messaging while driving is illegal in Spain previous research has shown that a substantial proportion of drivers, particularly young drivers, engage in this risky behaviour. The present study set out to investigate the psychological predictors of this behaviour using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). This study also measured the drivers' perceptions regarding the effectiveness of the ban on mobile phone use while driving, their perceived crash risk, the risk of being fined and the drivers perceived ability to compensate for the distraction caused by reading or writing text messages while driving. Data were collected using an online questionnaire from 1082 university students who were drivers and owned a mobile phone. Attitude and perceived behavioural control significantly predicted the intention to send and read text messages while driving, even after controlling for exposure and demographic variables. Furthermore, intention was found to be a significant predictor of retrospective measures of both sending and reading text messages while driving, as was perceived behavioural control for several of the outcome measures. The present findings provide support for the TPB and also demonstrate the additional contributions that the mobile phone ban and perceived ability to compensate for the distraction had in predicting intentions. In addition, perceived crash risk was positively related to the prediction of intentions to send text messages and the number of messages read in the last week. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell phone
  • Distractions
  • Mobile phone
  • Risk perception
  • Text messaging
  • Theory of planned behaviour


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