The role of legal and moral norms to regulate the behavior of texting while driving
Links to Fileshttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2017.11.004
MetadataShow full item record
Type of Work19 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Mass Communication
Citation of Original PublicationKim, H. (2018). The role of legal and moral norms to regulate the behavior of texting while driving. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behavior, 52. 21-31. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2017.11.004
Despite a nationwide lawful effort to regulate texting-while-driving behavior, little change has been reported. This study assessed the effect of current legal enforcement on attitudinal and behavioral responses toward texting while driving in conjunction with potential influences of two types of perceived norms—legal and moral. An online survey was conducted with 313 college students recruited from three states where the history of a banning law of texting while driving varied (more than 3 years, less than 1 year, and none). The students self-reported perceived legal norm, perceived moral norm, perceived risk of texting while driving, frequency of texting while driving, attitude toward texting while driving, and intention of texting while driving. General linear model analyses revealed that the mere presence of legal enforcement showed a negative relationship with frequency of behavior only for the state with the banning law in effect more than 3 years. While the perceived legal norm showed inconsistent relationships with outcome variables, the perceived moral norm appeared most promising to discourage texting while driving among young drivers. A banning law for texting-while-driving behavior not only backfired on the actual behavior in a short-term effect, but also required a long-term exposure of the law to change the actual behavior among college students. On the other hand, cultivation of a moral norm to regulate the behavior of texting while driving is particularly encouraged in that the stable nature of this psychological variable can play a role to suppress possible reactance evoked by an external force. Policy makers are encouraged to harness their approach to regulate young drivers’ texting while driving with the strategy that appeals to the drivers’ moral beliefs rather than simply forcing them to comply with the law.