Thrill Seeking Research Findings from the Fleet Driver Risk Index™

This is the second in a series of three blog posts that examines thrill seeking tendencies and driver behaviour. You can also read part 1 and part 2.

Research to develop the Thrill Seeking scale for the Fleet Driver Risk Index™ began with the theoretical understanding that as individuals possess an optimal level of arousal, Thrill Seeking tendencies in driving might be mobilized when the road environment stimulation level is too low, or the opportunity arises to express Thrill Seeking needs such as on an open country road.

Thrill Seeking items were constructed and completed by three driver samples. A UK working sample (N = 339) employed in various industries, a UK student sample (N = 244) and a US student sample (N = 219). The findings showed that younger drivers reported greater levels of Thrill Seeking than older drivers and men consistently scored higher than females. A consistent tendency for Thrill Seeking to be elevated was found for both convicted drivers and crash involved drivers. Thrill-seeking was also related to dangerous behaviours, especially violations and high speed driving and was correlated with the broad personality traits (higher) Psychoticism and (lower) Conscientiousness (Matthews, et al 1996). Thrill-seeking was also found to predict traffic offences such as speeding (Dorn & Matthews, 1995) and more recently, crash involvement amongst truck drivers and motorway speeding amongst non-professional drivers. (Öz et al, 2010).

These findings suggest that Thrill Seeking may be dependent on a variety of factors, including enjoyment of risk and risk-taking and may reflect a deeper-lying motivation influencing drivers’ attitudes, motives and information processing, which, in turn, influence the propensity to commit driving violations and, ultimately, increased risk of crash involvement.

Today, the Fleet Driver Risk Index™ assesses these Thrill Seeking tendencies and measures the desire to experience the excitement of driving fast and taking risks with a view to inform driver education and fleet risk management.


Dorn, L. (1992) Individual and GroupDifferences in Driving Behaviour. PhD thesis. Aston University.

Dorn, L, & Matthews, G. (1995). Prediction of mood and risk appraisals from trait measures: Two studies of simulated driving.  European Journal of Personality, 9, 25-42.