Traffic Law Compliance by Chinese Drivers: Demographics and Motivations

TitleTraffic Law Compliance by Chinese Drivers: Demographics and Motivations
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJingkang Gao, Jinhua Zhao
Conference NameTransportation Research Board 96th Annual Meeting
KeywordsChina, Normative and Instrumental Motivations, Policy Compliance, Traffic Laws

Research on Chinese traffic law compliance is lacking compared to the West. Yet it is increasingly important because of explosive recent growth of cars in China. Although demographic attributes such as age and gender and certain driver characteristics such as experience and annual mileage have been studied in regard to traffic law compliance, normative and instrumental motivations for compliance have not been thoroughly studied. Normative motivations specifically have not been fully considered in the Chinese context. Normative motivations are particularly important because they compel people to comply without policy instruments. We investigate the motivations for traffic law compliance in China with a more inclusive framework that incorporates legitimacy and morality as normative motivations. We show that while morality was most strongly related to compliance for all groups, other motivations exerted varying degrees of influence on compliance for different groups. In particular, legitimacy influences compliance more strongly for younger drivers than for older drivers for traffic violations particular to China. In contrast, concerns about personal safety influence compliance more strongly for older drivers than for younger drivers. We also show that there exists the norms gap between distracted driving and other traffic laws. This study suggests possible strategies for policymakers to tailor enforcement and public campaigns towards different demographic groups and for particular traffic laws.