Gheorghiu, Delhomme & Felonneau (2015) conducted a study in which they examined how the speeding behaviors of young drivers are fueled by peer pressure and risk tasking. The study was conducted on the premise that teenagers and young adults are known for their increased engagement in risky behaviors unlike other age groups. While numerous efforts have been undertaken to understand the behavior and countermeasures for this age group, increased involvement in risky behaviors like speedy driving is common among them. Based on recent surveys, the crash rates of teenagers and young drivers are particularly high when they are driving in the presence of peer passengers as compared to when they are alone. Therefore, examining the influence of peer pressure and risk taking of teenagers and young adults’ speeding behavior is an important issue of study. The study helps in determining the psychological factors brought by peer pressure and risk taking behaviors, which contribute to speeding and increased rates of car crashes among this population.


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The Research Question

The main issue the authors are trying to investigate in this research is the influence of peer pressure and risk taking on the perceived speeding behaviors and perceived intentions of speeding of teenagers and young adults. The authors recognize that previous studies on the relationship between peer pressure type and speeding have demonstrated that peer pressure type has no impact on a young driver’s speeding intentions. However, previous studies have shown that there is a positive link between passive pressure type and has huge impacts on speeding intentions in comparison to active pressure. Therefore, this present study sought to investigate issues of whether and in which situations peer passengers influence/change the estimated behavior of a young driver. In this regard, the researchers focus on establishing the impact of peer pressure and peer risk taking in certain situations on young drivers’ perceived speeding behavior and intentions. Based on this, the research question for this study is, “How does peer pressure and risk taking influence young adults’ speeding intentions and behaviors?”



As shown in the introduction segment of the article, these researchers argued that passive peer pressure type has a major impact on speeding intentions instead of active pressure. In this case, the perceived peer pressure type is driven by the assumption that the perceived norms from the driver’s peers have significant effects on his/her behavior. Based on this, the researchers formulated three hypotheses that would be tested in the study. First, these researchers hypothesized that passive peer pressure would contribute to high levels of estimated speeding behavior of the scenario driver (ESBSD) and estimated intention to speed of the scenario driver (ESISD) than active pressure (Gheorghiu, Delhomme & Felonneau, 2015). Secondly, the expected the study to demonstrate that peers’ risk taking level has a major impact on ESBSD and ESISD; high risk taking peers would have greater ESBSD and ESISD. Third, the researchers expected to show that passive peer pressure among high risk taking peers generates greater ESBSD and ESISD and active peer pressure (direct and indirect) among low risk taking peers generates the lowest ESBSD and ESISD.


Theoretical Framework

Even though the study does not specify the theoretical framework that was utilized by the researchers to explain or justify the hypotheses, they relied on the findings of previous studies to formulate these hypotheses. The researchers relied on studies conducted by Sela-Shayovitz (2008) and ., 2011) to justify or explain their research hypotheses. Sela — Shayovitz (2008) conducted a study that examined the perceptions of peer pressure among young drivers, driving under influence of alcohol and other substances, and engagement in road accidents. On the other hand, Simons-Morton et al. (2011) conducted a research that examined the impact of passengers and on risk driving behaviors and crashes or near crashes among teenagers/young adults. The findings of these two were utilized as the justifications for the hypotheses formulated and tested by these researchers.


In addition to utilizing these studies’ findings as the premise for the hypotheses, the authors also utilized the Theory of Planned Behavior as the basis for carrying out the research. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is a theory in the field of psychology that links an individual’s belief to his/her behaviors. According to LaMorte (2016), this theory has been successfully utilized to forecast and explain a series of health intentions and behaviors such as drinking, substance use, and smoking. The theory postulates that behavioral achievement is usually dependent on motivation (intention) and capability (behavioral control). The six constructs underlying the Theory of Planned Behavior are attitudes, intentions, subjective norms, social norms, perceived power, and perceived behavioral control (Ajzen, 1991). In this study, the researchers examined these three constructs in relation to speeding intentions and speeding behaviors of young drivers. The hypotheses were formulated, justified, and tested based on these six constructs of the Theory of Planned Behavior.


General Methodology

The researchers utilized a quantitative research methodology to test the hypotheses and establish the link between peer pressure and risk taking and the speeding behavior and intentions of young drivers. This quantitative study was conducted on a group of 180 young French drivers aged between 18 and 25 years. There was an even number of male and female participants in this study, which helped in lessening the probability of gender influence on the study results. This quantitative research was a quasi-experimental study in which a fictional young male driver was chosen as the main character in the driving scenario. The selection of a fictional young male driver for the research was attributed to the fact that men are known to have a greater involvement in car crashes and increased vulnerability to speeding as compared to female drivers. The use of a fictional character was also driven by the fact that it enabled the research participants to be more comfortable with the situation. Through this, the researchers avoided the likelihood of socially desirable answers because the participants may have not experienced the situations described in the scenario.


The researchers developed different scenarios relating to research question and randomly assigned participants to the scenarios. However, in each of these scenarios, the young driver was with his best friends who were all drivers. In half of these scenarios, the appeal to speed came from high risk taking group while in the other half, the appeal was from a low risk taking group of peers. To manipulate data relating to peer risk taking, the researchers provided information regarding the speeding behavior of peers. The speeding behavior was classified into two i.e. respect for speed limits and breaking the speed limits. Data was collected through the use of six that were distributed to the participants on social networks. The questionnaires were distributed to French students on Facebook and several online French forums like Information Relay on Cognitive Sciences.


Findings of Study

Through the quasi-experimental study, the researchers effectively examined conditions which peer presence influences the behavior of a young driver in order for him/her to engage in risky driving schemes like speeding. The researchers found that active peer pressure type (direct and indirect) affected the ESBSD driver while passive pressure type did not (Gheorghiu, Delhomme & Felonneau, 2015). This finding was in line with the first hypothesis since the pressure type had an impact only on ESBSD. Secondly, the researchers did not find any major impact of peer risk taking on ESBSD, which refuted the second hypothesis. The lack of any major effect of peer risk taking on ESBSD is attributable to the fact that peer risk taking is not very striking in the scenarios, which implies that it could only have very minimal impacts on behavior. Third, the researchers found that active peer pressure types generated a greater level of estimated speeding behavior than passive pressure types. This was contrary to the predicted result in the third hypothesis, which can be attributable to the use of a fictional character. In this case, the research participants acknowledged that the fictional driver changes his behavior in order to accommodate the demands of his peers. The other finding of the study relates to gender differences where the common notion that women are more cautious than men when driving was refuted. The researchers found that women drivers have the same means to men in perceived risk taking, pressures from peers while driving, ESBSD, and ESISD.


Future Research

One of the recommendations for future studies relating to this research is that future research should focus on a more precise and profound understanding of the impact of peer pressure on the behaviors of drivers through accurate differentiation of active and passive pressure. The need for accurate differentiation of these concepts is attributable to the fact they have a significant impact on the behaviors of drivers. Secondly, future studies should focus on examining the impact of peer risk taking through evaluating other different behaviors like drink driving and other kinds of risks that peers engage in. Third, future research should examine the protective impact of peers on the behaviors of drivers. Future studies should examine whether similar influences occur when peers discourage drivers from involvement in risky behaviors and whether the protective impact is greater than the negative effect.


Practical Implications

The findings of this study have numerous practical implications given its relevance to real life scenarios. One of the real life implications of the study’s findings relates to road safety campaigns and educational initiatives targeting drivers. Road safety campaigns and education initiatives should incorporate a focus on improving resistance skills of young drivers. Driving students should be informed about the existence of in-vehicle peer pressure and how to resist it. Additionally, the lessening of the impact of peer pressure could entail establishing policies that limit the number of peer passengers a young driver can carry, especially within the first three years of obtaining their driving license. As currently practiced in the United States, law enforcement agencies and personnel should ensure that young drivers cannot carry a specific number of peer passengers, particularly during certain periods of time such as at night or in the evening.


In relation to speeding, the findings of the study can be utilized to demonstrate the dangers of speeding. Media and educational campaigns should be conducted to enhance awareness of dangers of speeding, especially among young drivers. During the campaigns, novice and young drivers should be sensitized on the value of obeying the law relating to speed limits. In this case, the media and educational campaigns should provide a balance on the positive effects of complying with speed limits and negative impacts of speeding. The other application of these findings in real life involves targeting passengers in the media and educational campaigns. Passengers should be educated on their collective responsibility to promote and ensure safer traveling behaviors. They should be educated on their role and influence on the behaviors of drivers and how they can help prevent speeding.




Ajzen, I. (1991). The Theory of Planned Behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179 — 211.


Gheorghiu, A., Delhomme, P. & Felonneau, M.L. (2015, October 24). Peer Pressure and Risk Taking in Young Drivers’ Speeding Behavior. Transportation Research Part F, 35, 101-111.


LaMorte, W.W. (2016, April 28). The Theory of Planned Behavior. Retrieved from Boston University School of Public Health website:


Sela-Shayovitz, R. (2008). Young Drivers’ Perceptions of Peer Pressure, Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs, and Involvement in Road Accidents. Criminal Justice Studies, 21(1), 3 — 14.


Simons-Morton, B. G., Ouimet, M. C., Zhang, Z., Klauer, S. E., Lee, S. E., Wang, J., et al. (2011). The Effect of Passengers and Risk-taking Friends on Risky Driving and Crashes/Near Crashes Among Novice Teenagers. The Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 49(6), 587 — 593.