How do people perceive driving risks in small towns? A case study in Central Texas

Xiao Li, Greg Rybarczyk, Wei Li, Muhammad Usman, Jiahe Bian, Andong Chen, Xinyue Ye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The number of studies investigating the relationship between perceived and objective traffic risk from drivers’ perspective is limited. This study aims to investigate this dynamic within an understudied transportation environment – small towns in Texas, USA, defined as incorporated places with a population of less than 50,000. A web-based survey was distributed to six small towns in central Texas to ascertain perceptual traffic risk factors and personal characteristics. A participatory GIS exercise was also conducted to collect where high-risk locations were perceived and to correlate them to high crash zones. This study spatially examined the relations between perceived and observed risk locations and statistically identified a set of contributing factors which could make crash-intensive areas more perceivable by road users. The results indicated that road users’ perceived risk locations are not always associated with high crash rates. The match rate between perceived and observed risk locations varied significantly across studied sites. We found that some personal and built environment factors significantly impacted people's sensitivity to perceiving crash-intensive locations. The binary logistic regression model was accurate (74.13%) in highlighting whether a perceived risk location matches observed risk locations. The results emphasize the importance of considering perceived and objective risk simultaneously to gain a better understanding of traffic risk mitigation, especially in underserved small towns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107285
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Law


  • GIS
  • Risk analysis
  • Spatial analysis
  • Traffic risk perception
  • Transportation safety


Dive into the research topics of 'How do people perceive driving risks in small towns? A case study in Central Texas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this