Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Community and Family Health

Major Professor

Robert J. McDermott, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Wayne W. Westhoff, Ph.D.


Risk perception, Risk-taking attitudes, Risky driving behaviors, Knowledge of road laws and signs, Motor vehicle crashes


Young adults' risk-taking attitudes, risk perception, and knowledge of road laws and signs influence their driving behaviors. The adoption of risky driving behaviors increases young adults' risk of motor vehicle crashes. The purpose of this study was to increase the understanding of the factors that lead to increased risks of MVC-related mortality and morbidity for young adults in Belize, to provide support for the development of evidence-based programs, and, more importantly, to investigate the relationships involving young adults' risk-taking attitudes, risk perception, and knowledge of road laws and signs and their relation to driving behaviors. The Precaution Adoption Process Model provided the theoretical foundation for this study and was used as the framework to investigate the variables of interest. This study used a nonexperimental, cross-sectional research design to examine the relationships between the latent variables. A convenience sample of 532 students enrolled at the University of Belize participated in this study. Data were collected through the completion of the Driving Behavior Survey. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the strength and direction of relationships among these latent variables and provide a better understanding of the relationships among these latent variables. The study found that the majority of students were in the final stages of the Precaution Adoption Process Model and were exhibiting the safest behaviors. However, the risk-taking attitudes significantly contributed to the manifestation of risky driving behavior and to a lesser extent so did risk perception. The study's findings suggest that interventions should focus on lowering young adults' risk-taking attitudes and raising risk perception to reduce risky driving behaviors.