Prediction of Chinese drivers’ intentions to park illegally in emergency lanes: An application of the theory of planned behavior

Objective: Illegal parking in emergency lanes (paved highway shoulders) is becoming a serious road safety issue in China. The aim of this study was to (1) examine the utility of the theory of planned behavior (TPB) extended with descriptive norms, past behavior, facilitating and deterring circumstances, sensation seeking, and invulnerability in predicting Chinese drivers’ intentions toward illegal emergency lane parking; (2) investigate whether respondents’ demographic characteristics would impact their views toward the behavior and predictive patterns of intentions; and (3) identify significant predictors of intentions.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, eligible respondents were all qualified Chinese drivers. A self-administered questionnaire was employed to collect data, including demographic information, descriptive norms, past behavior, facilitating and deterring circumstances, sensation-seeking, and scenario-based invulnerability combined with TPB constructs. Descriptive statistics, multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs), and a series of hierarchical multiple linear regression analyses were conducted in SPSS.

Results: A total of 435 qualified drivers (234 males and 201 females) with a mean age of 35.2 years (SD =10.3) were included in analysis. The descriptive analysis showed that most participants reported weak intentions (M = 2.35) to park illegally in emergency lanes with negative attitude (M = 3.19), low perceived support (M = 2.91), and high control (M = 5.08) over the behavior. The model succeeded in explaining 64% of the variance in intentions for the whole sample, and principal TPB components accounted for 21% of variance in intentions after demographic variables were controlled for. MANOVAs revealed that significant differences of respondents’ opinions toward illegal emergency lane parking were only found between better educated drivers (with college education background) and less-educated ones. Separate regression analyses revealed that the predictive pattern of better educated participants also differed significantly from that of less-educated ones.

Conclusion: The study revealed that perceived behavioral control, past behavior, facilitating circumstance, and invulnerability emerged as consistently significant predictors of Chinese drivers’ intentions to park illegally in emergency lanes. Findings of this study may have some practical implications in developing multifaceted interventions or education processes for illegal emergency lane parking in China.