The Role of Social Capital in Traffic Safety Citizenship

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Traffic safety citizenship is an emerging approach to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on our roadways. The goals of this study were to develop a model to identify beliefs and values associated with intention to engage in traffic safety citizenship behaviors with strangers and to explore the role of an individual’s perception of social capital in this model. This study focused on two safety citizenship behaviors: intervening as a driver to ask a passenger to wear a seat belt and intervening as a passenger to ask a driver to stop reading or typing on a cell phone while driving. Results showed that one-third of the respondents had been in a situation to intervene with a stranger in the past twelve months. Of those in a situation to intervene, most reported they did not always intervene. They were more likely to intervene about a seat belt than about texting. Intention to intervene was significantly correlated with intervening behavior, and linear regression models revealed that perceived control was the dominant component most predictive of intention to intervene. Social capital did not directly predict intention to intervene but was predictive of the perceived injunctive norm and the perceived descriptive norm, which were both predictive of intention. Results of the study provide a better understanding of the beliefs and values associated with the intention to engage in traffic safety citizenship behaviors and the role of social capital to facilitate engagement in these behaviors. Recommendations to increase safety citizenship behaviors are provided.