A Study Looks at Personality Factors That Influence Driving Behavior, and Houstonians Embrace Bike Sharing

Texas transportation officials study why people drive too fast, and Houston gets major support for bike sharing.

So when you’re taking a leisurely drive down a country road, do you often see drivers on your tail who can’t wait to pass? According to a new study from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, it’s the rural Farm-to-Market roads where people are the most likely to speed.

TTI did the study along with the Batielle Memorial Institute research firm, with the goal of finding better ways to prevent people from speeding. Researchers installed GPS devices on the cars of 80 drivers who travel the roads and highways of the Brazos Valley. The study included drivers of all ages, both men and women. Results of the study showed that men are more likely to speed than women, and the speeders tend to be younger rather than older drivers.

As for where drivers like to put the pedal to the metal, reseacher TTI reseacher Laura Higgins says it’s not the interstate highways, but the country roads where speed limits are usually between 55 and 60 miles per hour. She calls those drivers “situational” speeders, people who may be inclined to drive faster when they don’t percieve a lot of hazards, or don’t expect to see a police car.

The study also looked at habitual speeders, which Higgins describes as individuals with personality factors linked to aggressive driving and road rage. They uncovered those findings during focus groups when researchers asked participants about their reaction to posted speed limits. Higgins says, “Their response would likely be, well, that’s a target, you should aim for around there.” She adds some of the drivers even joked that the speed limit is the minimum speed you should travel.

So what do you do to make people slow down? The study found that traffic enforcement and driver safety campaigns don’t always have much of an effect because they don’t provide constant reinforcement. Economic factors, though, could prove to be a deterrent. Participants said if they had a device in their car that showed them how much fuel they used at each speed, they would be more inclined to slow down.

You can see the full study here.

As KUHF’s Laurie Johnson reports, Houston has gotten a large grant to significantly expand its bike share program.

Bike Share began in Houston last May with three kiosks and 18 bikes, all located downtown. A $750,000 grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield will now allow the program to expand to 200 bikes at 24 kiosks. The new kiosks will be set up in Montrose, Midtown, and the Museum District starting in March.

Mayor Annise Parker says Houstonians have warmed up to Bike Share, with 1,200 people signing up to join the service over the past eight months. Figures show bikes have been checked out around 2,000 times.

As for Bike Share’s future, officials hope to expand the program to more neighborhoods by the end of the year, including the Texas Medical Center, the Heights, Washington Avenue, and the East End.


So how are you getting around the Houston region? Let us know at

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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