The specific role of spatial orientation skills in predicting driving behaviour

Raffaella Nori, Massimiliano Palmiero, Alessia Bocchi, Anna Maria Giannini, Laura Piccardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How people acquire environmental information brings out individual differences that are extremely large and robust. We assume that different spatial strategies used to represent, explore and move through the environment may predict risky driving behaviour. Here, we investigated spatial strategies and driving behaviour in 167 college students (86 women) using the following tests: the Spatial Cognitive Style Test, aimed at assessing spatial strategies characterized by different degrees of spatial competences (ranging from landmark, route to survey); the Manchester Driver Behavior Questionnaire, aimed at assessing errors, lapses, ordinary and aggressive Highway Code violations; the Attitude toward Road Safety Issues, aimed at assessing road safety attitudes related to driving. A series of regression analysis showed that spatial strategy used by drivers predicted the number of errors, lapses, ordinary and aggressive violations, as well as the number of road-safety behaviours. In conclusion, our results suggest that drivers preferring a survey strategy are much more able to make correct spatial decisions. Specifically, they are more confident about their spatial competence that in turn makes them less aggressive towards other drivers. Our findings suggest that good navigators travel without incurring in violations and fines. Implications regarding the possibility to use spatial navigational training to improve driving skills and release driving licence, as well as limitations of the study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-271
Number of pages13
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Cognitive Styles
  • Driving Behaviour
  • Gender Differences
  • Road-Safety Behaviour
  • Spatial Strategy
  • Violations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Applied Psychology


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