Traffic psychology is a discipline of psychology that studies the relationship between psychological processes and the behavior of road users. In general, traffic psychology aims to apply theoretical aspects of psychology in order to improve traffic mobility by helping to develop and apply accident countermeasures, as well as by guiding desired behaviors through education and the motivation of road users.
Behavior is frequently studied in conjunction with accident research in order to assess causes and differences in accident involvement. Traffic psychologists distinguish three motivations of driver behavior: reasoned or planned behavior, impulsive or emotional behavior, and habitual behavior. Additionally, social and cognitive applications of psychology are used, such as enforcement, road safety education campaigns, and also therapeutic and rehabilitation programs.
Broad theories of cognition, sensory-motor and neurological aspects psychology are also applied to the field of traffic psychology. Studies of factors such as attention, memory, spatial cognition, inexperience, stress, inebriation, distracting/ambiguous stimuli, fatigue, and secondary tasks such as phone conversations are used to understand and investigate the experience and actions of road users.
Traffic psychology deals with the noncognitive, cognitive, and sensory-motor aspects of people in the context of driving, dealing with traffic, and dealing with others. By identifying feelings that cause cognitive thoughts, traffic psychology allows the understanding of resulting actions and gives a way of modifying behavior.
Traffic psychology can be defined as a tool that through subjective analysis, helps to increase the overall quality of lives through behavioral observation, identification, and modification.
The task of traffic psychology is to understand, predict and provide measures to modify road user behavior at levels identified with as general objective to minimize the harmful effects of traffic participation.