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Open Access Research article

Social-cognitive correlates of risky adolescent cycling behavior

Hans Feenstra*, Robert AC Ruiter and Gerjo Kok

Author Affiliations

Work and Social Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:408  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-408

Published: 12 July 2010

Abstract

Background

Bicycle use entails high safety and health risks especially for adolescents. Most safety education programs aimed at adolescents focus on accident statistics and risk perceptions. This paper proposes the investigation of the social-cognitive correlates of risky cycling behaviors of adolescents prior to developing safety education programs.

Method

Secondary school students aged 13 to 18 years (n = 1446) filled out questionnaires regarding bicycle behavior, risky intentions, accident experience, and social-cognitive determinants as suggested by the theory of planned behavior.

Results

Regression analysis revealed that the proximal variables (i.e., self-efficacy, attitudes towards drunk driving, personal norm regarding safekeeping of self and others, and compared risk) were able to predict 17% of the variance of risky behavior and 23% of the variance of risky intentions. The full model explained respectively 29% and 37% of the variance in risky behavior and risky intentions. Adolescents with positive attitudes towards risky behavior and low sense of responsibility report risky behavior, even when having been (close to) an accident.

Conclusions

Adolescents realize whether they are risk takers or not. This implies that the focus of education programs should not be on risk perceptions, but on decreasing positive attitudes towards alcohol in traffic and increasing sense of responsibility instead. Cognitions regarding near accidents should be studied, the role of safe cycling self-efficacy is unclear.