A total of 32 participants voluntarily took part in the study, including 18 taxi drivers, two taxi organization’s staffs, a traffic police officer, two traffic police authorities, three pedestrians and passengers, an ordinary driver, an agency driver, a bus driver, a bus organization’s authority, a school service driver, a transportation organization’s. They had different educational levels, ranging from illiterate to university graduates. The participants’ age also varied from 23 to 73 years old. The coding offered that the influencing factors of taxi drivers’ safety culture can be classified in 23 sub-categories, ten categories and, five themes (Table 4), which is described in details in the following section. The relationships between these themes were identified and represented as SEL-SB model (Fig. 1). The model consisted of the components of traffic safety culture namely Stewardship and governance, Economic pressure, Law manifestation, Socio-cultural profiles, Behaviours. The SEL-SB model describes taxi drivers’ safety culture components and the relationships between them. This model can be considered in planning for road safety measures to promote traffic safety culture.
1 Stewardship And Governance
The most important theme that emerged from the data, which approximately most of the participants emphasized, was stewardship and governance. Stewardship means to plan and manage resources in order to achieve the desired goal in order to improve traffic safety culture, as well as to have a custodian to this improvement. Governance referred to the accountability in the highest levels of legislative and operational performance in the country in relation to a social phenomenon such as safety culture. This theme had been extracted from two categories of strategic planning and management, and integrated road safety organization.
1–1 Strategic Planning And Management
The participants believed that there was little coordination among sectors related to traffic safety. The powerful management and appropriate strategic planning were needed for organizing taxis and other cars in the city. Other studies had frequently emphasized planning for transportation and public health in order to manage traffic accidents in any community (26).
The management commitmee was also mentioned as the key factor in improving safety culture in different studies (27–29). The participants, however, referred to the lack of management commitment in traffic-related organizations, which can lead to traffic chaos and shaping a dangerous traffic environment. They also pointed to weaknesses in management, lack of commitment and accountability of organizations, negligence, and the reluctance of the authorities in addressing the current traffic situation. Some of the participants believed that if the relevant organizations and authorities fail to resolve the problem, the situation will get worse.
"in fact, we are repeating our words again. If the authorities do not support us ... no problem will be solved ... unfortunately in our society, everything is based on favoritism, rather than job competence... " (P16a45-HS-TD- FGD)
The results of the study showed that in order to improve traffic safety and facilitate public transport services, the relevant organizations should work together. The interviews emphasized the need for co-ordination and co-operation between different organizations.
According to Atkins and Granhed (2012), the organizational strategy is an important factor in the development and operation of road safety systems. Strategies determine the interests of the government, security objectives, the risks and challenges, and the likely responses of the community and organizations to these risks, as well as the structure of the national road safety system (27). This study showed the same results and underlined that organization strategy should target improve the traffic safety culture via establishing long-term organizational goals and objectives, sound information management, introducing accidents mitigation strategies, allocating funds to improve traffic safety, promoting thinking about safety in organizations, control over large numbers of unlawful passenger-carriers, considering a think tank for presenting new notions and design in traffic field, and so on.
"Why 17000 people are killing [on the roads] annually? We should have a strategic plan. Developed countries are implementing vision zero strategies, meaning that one death is unbearable, while if we could reduce 17000 deaths by 10% annually, we would be flying high." (P23a29-UPG-PA-IDI)
2 − 1 Integrated Road Safety Organization
One important result of the study was about the fact that there was no single organization in Iran with the overall power and responsibility to decide and regulate traffic safety activities. The participants stated that similar tasks were performed by several organizations, and there was no clear allocation of tasks for some activities. This finding is in agreement with Khorasani-Zavareh et al.'s (2009), who worked on traffic injuries in Iran and showed that the most striking factor that emerged from their data was the "lack of a systematic approach to the safety of road users" (28). The interviews showed the need for an integrated road safety organization that would be created by government agencies to manage, plan, organize, coordinate, and perform activities and measurements in the area of traffic safety, and has the necessary authority to execute its plans. They criticized that there was no such an organization in Iran whose sole responsibility was to ensure implementing safety standards in planning, designing, and constructing the roads.
"There must be a single organization [in traffic safety]. There are interferences between organizations, and in some cases, they work in isolation…. There is a need for a coordinating organization, an organization that undertakes all the tasks and responsibilities in the field of traffic safety, communicates responsibilities and receives feedback…. " (P23a29-UPG-PA-IDI)
Based on the results of the current study and other similar studies, developing countries are usually facing a low level of traffic safety culture, as well as insufficient allocated funds for road safety projects. In these countries, the dominant approach to traffic safety is limited to reactive responses. If there is an organization responsible for traffic safety, it can improve traffic safety culture (29). Consequently, more effective approaches to traffic safety culture will be considered. Consistent with other studies, the results suggested that without reforming organizational structures and political processes, there will be no guarantee for proper control of high-risk behaviors, dangerous road conditions, and vehicle failures. Effective interventions are required for powerful organizational mechanisms. In the leading countries in road safety, safety has received the highest level of political support (30).
"A stereotypical word is spoken in every organization. How should safety culture be established? Culturalization costs: it costs more than the current budget allocated for this purpose. What you pay, what you get" (P23a29-UPG-PA-IDI)
2. Law Manifestation
One of the topics that were highlighted during the interviews by twenty-five of the participants was law manifestation. Law cancontribute to the order of social life. It is a moral mirror that reflects lifestyle, social communication, values, and rights that govern behaviors in society (31). The results of the study showed that respect for the law and regulations was one of the determinant factors of traffic safety culture. Law manifestation is divided into two categories of legislation and law enforcement.
The participants presumed weaknesses in the legislation as an effective factor in reducing road safety among drivers as well as taxi drivers’ behaviors, which mostly referred to the inconsistency of subcultures with the road regulations, the impractical aspects of some traffic rules, and the inadequacy of technical examinations.
"According to Article 180 of the Driving Guidelines, the driver should not eat, drink, and speak while driving... for a taxi driver as a professional driver, compliance this Article for 10 hours daily is almost impossible." (P23a29-UPG-PA-IDI)
2–2 Law Enforcement
Participants emphasized the importance of monitoring and enforcement of traffic safety, strictness and inflexibility police surveillance, and relevant organizations such as TMO. Furthermore, some participants also considered the use of automated law enforcement technologies as an important tool for improving traffic safety. They also highlighted the importance of coherence of the training and enforcing the law in establishing safe driving behaviors.
"I can say the lack of supervision of the taxi organization makes us, the taxi drivers, stopping in the middle of the street. Because some people seize the stations." (P4a49-HS-TD-IDI)
The results of the study can be described by the deterrence theory. Deterrence theory, which has been derived from rational choice theory (RCT), suggests that increasing the likelihood of being penalized by strengthening automatic surveillance or traditional controls reduces the number of traffic accidents and subsequent injuries. one can say, therefore, the results are supported by the deterrence theory (32).
Participants highlighted other issues such as the feeling of violation of their rights, discrimination in law enforcement, and inequality in social services. The drivers described these issues as influencing factors in their frustration and dissatisfaction and found it to be effective in aggressive and dangerous driving behaviors. Other studies have shown that drivers find strong negative emotions in the face of road injustices. Especially if these acts considered deliberate and offensive. The common emotional response to these injustices is anger, which is associated with a sense of vengeance and the need to retaliate (33).
"When a taxi driver sees a private car [not taxi] unlawfully carries passengers, it gets on his nerves ... It is likely to argue with the driver, wraps the taxi in front of the car, and slams the brakes on, that I did it myself, several times." (P4a49-HS-TD-IDI)
3. Economic Pressure
The economic problems of taxi drivers were one of the major concerns and bad-tempered of the participants. Almost all of the participants stated that economic problems had caused taxi drivers to experience a
The results of our study showed a high level of financial stress among taxi drivers. Dealing with this stress, the participants committed driving violations. This finding is justified by the results of other studies, for example, De Coster (2005) identified law violations as a strategy for coping with stress. According to his study, it is likely that problems externalize in the form of anti-social behavior and law violations, which confirms the arguments of strain theories that describe the relationship between economic pressures and law violations (34).
3 − 2 Livelihood Concerns
Another thing that was announced by the participants was undesirable household conditions. The economic crisis and inflation had increased the cost of living; the inability to cover families' basic needs had put extra strain on taxi drivers, causing stress, anxiety, job dissatisfaction and, in turn, long working hours, fatigue, and competition for passengers ending up to unsafe driving behavior.
"It’s an everyday concern. I can say that 99 percent of the accidents occur because of these day-to-day concerns and economic pressure." (P1a34-GS-TD-IDI)
Studies show that law violations of the s are related to economic dissatisfaction and economic concerns such as the inability to pay bills and debts. Such problems often affect employees and may describe the causes of law-breaking behaviors (38). The results of the study are in line with the classical strain theory suggesting that dissatisfaction with the economic situation can lead to monetary violations (35).
1–4 Cultural Values
Cultural values reflect some of the key features of national culture. The results of this study showed that factors such as taxi drivers' beliefs, driver's commitment to citizenship, and ethics in society sometimes directly or indirectly influence their unsafe behaviors. Beliefs including lack of trust in police and officials, the epidemic of non-compliance with traffic rules, religious beliefs, fatalism, optimism, false beliefs in the community, hopelessness to improve traffic conditions, etc. were among the factors expressed by participants. One of the beliefs stated by some participants was the feeling that taxi drivers owned the street. Participants announced that most taxi drivers thought the street belonged to them. Thus, they considered it is their right to display behaviors including passing the no-passing zone, disregarding the traffic lights, stopping at any desired location, and so on.
"Our colleagues think that because they are a taxi driver, they own the street. For example, they don't use the turn signal, suddenly pull over and pick up passengers, which is dangerous anyway." (P2a47-JHS-TD-IDI)
These beliefs would have an impact on increasing unsafe behaviors among taxi drivers. Both theories of social normative framework and expectancy violation theory (EVT) describe the results of the study. These theories suggest that to the extent that drivers misunderstand the traffic safety norms in a society, they view the unsafe driving behaviors in the community as normal, which leads to greater risk-taking among these drivers (37, 38). Participants' beliefs about the prevalence of traffic violations in society make such behaviors normal, leading to more traffic offenses. However, in contrast, the results showed that some beliefs in society can mitigate traffic violations. For example, the study showed that religious beliefs and practices could help people to cope with job dissatisfaction and can partially mitigate unfavorable feelings of law-income, low social status, and job dissatisfaction, resulting in a better concentration on driving and safe behaviors.
"We had a colleague repeatedly said that we came from the morning and hadn't made any money. I said you should thank goodness you had a sound body; you could sit behind the wheel and bring home the bacon by the grace of God. He was ingratitude and edgy. finally, I heard that he had an accident while ago." (P7a43-JHS-TD-IDI)
Other issues raised during the interviews indicated cultural conflict. In this way, participants announced that people in the studied community saw their social culture separate from their driving culture. For example, they said that it was important to respect one another's rights in society while precisely the opposite behaviors occurred in their driving. So that the drivers didn't consider their driving behaviors as part of their social personality.
"My driving behavior is different from my social personality ... We find traffic and driving behaviors completely separate from our other social behaviors. I think pickpocketing is too disgusting... but that behavior is different in driving and I don't count, for example, if I change the line or even I double-park I am violating others right it's just like robbery, I am stealing their time and space…… but it's not disgusting in my eyes, which shows the separation of the traffic culture from our general culture of society." (P22a51-UG-PA-IDI)
4 − 2 Normalization Of Violations
It seems that the prevalence of driving violations in society had led to the manifestation of unsafe driving behaviors as a norm, which made it easier for drivers to commit violations. The proper context for learning the driving violations' techniques was created so that individuals received social support rather than social condemnation for driving violations. Driving violations were, now and then, considered as a sign of ingenuity, which caused people to get their destination sooner.
"For example, I don't say that it's flagrant to pass through the red lights, I don't give a fig about traffic regulations and citizenship rights! I'm smart ... I don't condemn disobeying traffic rules... Mr. Taxi driver weaved through the crowd and took us to the destination fast. He was a good driver who passed the no-passing zone but took us to the destination on time. Unfortunately, it's like that….no one blames this in our society.” (P23a29-UPG-PA-IDI)
Additionally, the study showed that traffic chaos in the community also influenced the creation of sufficient conditions for unsafe driving behavior among drivers. Uncertainties in the traffic environment, traffic chaos arose mainly due to the factors such as driver-focused infrastructures, inadequate segregation of the motorized and non-motorized vehicles, lack of pedestrian segregation in traffic flow, improvident increasing in the number of vehicles in the country without expanding the appropriate infrastructure, and epidemics of violating the traffic laws caused traffic congestion and chaos in the urban traffic. Participants referred to the complex traffic environment with a combination of different road users. They said that sometimes a combination of motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, buses, and other cars could create a dangerous situation for them and made taxi driving a stressful job due to high occupational exposure to these traffic risks.
"…. [Driving a taxi] is a dangerous job; we are all in danger. Motorcyclists cut in front of us, pedestrians run out in front of our car, youth weaving through traffic, and many others even hit and run." (P12a65-RW-TD-IDI)
Traffic chaos and non-compliance with safety regulations in the community and ambiguities in the traffic environment caused traffic congestion and road rage among road users, which may include some aggressive driving acts in taxi drivers. A vast range of behaviors were mentioned including conflicting with other drivers, attempting to retaliate against the aggressive behaviors of other drivers, not giving way to other drivers or battling to overtake others, making verbal abuse or rude gestures in the occurrence of near-misses, getting into a post-crash conflict, forcing other drivers into committing driving violations, and etc.
"For example, if I want to go from boulevard down to Honarestan [name of the alley], a taxi or a private car which is ahead of us [big vehicles] should give way and let us go, shouldn't they? However, they [taxis] never give way to anyone, never. Even if you beep the horn to them, they don't turn off the road, and if you toot for 2 or 3 times repeatedly he puts his head out of the window and starts swearing like a mad " (P30a42-UG-SSD-IDI)
In line with the results of the present study, studies referring to violence among taxi drivers in other contexts also showed the prevalence of verbal and physical aggression among these drivers(39). Some driving behaviors are caused by negative emotional motives, such as bad moods, anger or aggressive behaviors. The source of aggressive behaviors may be discomfort caused by other people. For example, if a driver does not move as soon as the traffic light turns green, the behind driver may perform aggressive driving behavior via beeping, or verbally abusing the driver, which may provoke the insulted driver to retaliate the displeased drivers’ violent behavior. Studies have shown that public attitudes toward aggressive retaliatory behaviors are less negative than initiated aggressive behaviors(40).
Other frequently mentioned issues in the interviews were the unsafe behaviors of road users. These unsafe behaviors were common among all road users, including vulnerable road users such as bicyclists, pedestrians, passengers, motorcyclists, as well as bus drivers, private cars, and other taxi drivers. All of the participants mentioned the unsafe driving behaviours of taxi drivers and other road users. They identified several factors as the causes of these behaviors, such as lack of proper enforcement of driving rules in the community, lack of proper stewardship and governance, economic pressure, and socio-cultural factors. Risky driving behaviors were a multidimensional problem with a wide range of affecting factors.
A wide range of determinants may affect driving behaviors including driver's physical and mental abilities, psychological factors (e.g personality type, moods, and emotions), distraction by the external and internal stimulus, social context, individuals' income, socio-cultural background, level of law enforcement and governance as well as the internalization of compliance and respect for the law in society (40). Participants stated that the existence of unsafe driving behaviors has led to the spread of these kinds of behaviors, which in turn caused drivers and road users to emulate to be unsafe in driving.
1–5 Unsafe Behaviors Of Road Users
Participants pointed to the unsafe behaviors of many road users. As mentioned earlier, it seemed that acting unsafe driving behaviors were widespread among road users. For example, Participants, especially taxi drivers, referred to some of the unsafe behaviors of motorcyclists. They stated that sometimes motorcyclists might create a dangerous situation for them. Other studies also suggest that motorcyclists are high-risk road users; most of them are thrill-seekers. Driving behaviors such as waving through the cars, not paying attention to traffic signs and driving at high speeds are very common among these road users. Together with the high vulnerability, these behaviors make the motorcycle one of the most unsafe road users(41). Furthermore, participants pointed to instances of unsafe behaviors of other personal cars as well as unlawful passenger-carriers, which consist of disregarding traffic flow, parking in taxi stations, double parking, using mobile phones, cutting off the taxis in order to pick up the passengers, and so on. Which were consistant with the danagerous behaviours that were observed in other studies(42, 43).
"For example, A few minutes ago I fined a car which was parked in a taxi station.” (P21a36-HS-PO-IDI)
Other issues repeatedly voiced by the participants, especially by taxi drivers, were the unsafe behaviors of intra-city bus drivers. They also revealed concerns about the unsafe behaviors of pedestrians and passengers. As well, taxi drivers pointed to passengers as the main reason for some of their unsafe driving behaviors. These results are confirmed by other Iranian studies. A study by Hashemiparast et al. (2017) showed a high prevalence of traffic violations among pedestrians. Their study found that non-compliance with traffic rules has become a norm in society and people has learnt to commit these violations from each other(44).
"Only pedestrians make traffic congestion at that intersection; It's not caused by cars. They [pedestrians] don't yield. They don't pay attention to traffic light and rights of other road users; they just cross the street anyway." (P7a43-GS-TD-IDI)
2.5 Unsafe Behaviors Of Taxi Drivers
Study participants referred to unsafe behaviors among taxi drivers. They described the most common ones including, but not limited to, double parking, not using the seat belt or pretending to fasten a belt, stopping in the middle-of-the-road (for picking up or dropping off the passengers), or at anywhere they want, not keeping a safe trailing distance, not using turn signals, running the red lights, not yielding to other vehicles, prolonged standing in a taxi station, speeding, using a mobile phone.
"I'm frankly saying that I don't fasten my belt and wherever I see a police officer in 100 or 200 meters ahead, I lay my hand and quickly drag the seatbelt, but I can't fasten it so much." (P3a35-ES-TD-IDI)
Driving behaviors are connecting the chain between the human and its consequences. High-risk driving behaviors can put the drivers and others at risk. In other words, some driving behavior patterns, including law violations such as speeding, following too closely, weaving through the crowd, poor lane discipline, not yielding right of way, taking unlawful turns can expose drivers to the risk of injury and death. These behaviors can be intentional, such as violations, or unintentional, such as errors and distractions (40). The most frequently stated unsafe behaviors in the present study were passenger scouting, making frequent and abrupt stopping in the middle of the street, picking/dropping passengers in wherever they wanted, reckless driving and speeding, illegal parking, illegal lane change. Referring to other studies, one can say these kinds of behaviors are ordinary for commercial drivers in the developing countries (42, 45).
Core Theme And Storyline
With all of the discussed themes, it seemed that the theme of stewardship and governance was a comprehensive one and somehow interfered with other themes. The comprehensiveness of this theme was also demonstrated in the focus group discussion; in a way that all interviewees repeatedly emphasized the importance and centrality of the theme. This theme consisted of two categories of strategic planning and management and the need for an integrated road safety organization. It is inferred that providing the implementation of these categories would, in some way, affect the other themes or categories raised in the study. Taxi drivers would be provided with financial support if strategic planning and management established in all organizations, including taxi drivers' organization, municipality, traffic department, and other relevant agencies.
By benefiting from financial support, the economic pressures on taxi drivers would be reduced, which would sequentially affect the unsafe behaviors of taxi drivers, such as competition for passengers, fatigue driving, and etc. On the other hand, reinforcing organizational strategies would make taxi drivers' job rewards higher than their job costs, leading to increased job satisfaction and job commitment among taxi drivers. With the increase in job commitment, passengers' satisfaction would be also affected, which causes growth in taxi driver's income and their subsequent job satisfaction; increasing job satisfaction by itself affects the driver's behaviors. The second category of the core theme refers to the need for an integrated road safety organization. Clearly, by introducing such an organization, categories like law manifestation and economic pressure would be also affected, in a way that there would be short-term and long-term goals to improve traffic safety and law enforcement. Moreover, legislation regarding traffic safety would be taken into more consideration.
In this case, the effective actions of the organization and authorities would influence the shared beliefs of taxi drivers about the priority and safety in traffic-related organizations and would increase the level of safe behaviors in the community. Employees' behaviors could change significantly through changing management and leadership priorities. By putting organizations' priority on safety behaviors, the opportunity for the expression of socio-cultural values, especially the ones which advocate unsafe behaviors, would be reduced. A high priority of safety in traffic organizations and institutes, as well as establishing organizational strategies and goals focusing on traffic safety, would promote safe behaviors. Besides, it would weaken the effect of individual preference and the influence of cultural factors on behaviors. At the same time, low management commitment to safety would lead to placing a low priority on safety, leaving behaviors largely to the individuals themselves and their internal motivations. Furthermore, stewardship and governance could have an indirect impact on the safety culture in society through its impact on law-manifestation. Participants have repeatedly stated in the interviews that traffic safety legislation and its proper enforcement would lead to the institutionalization of safe driving behaviors and gradually cultivating it into peoples' daily routine in the society, thereby promoting safe driving behaviors in the community. As depicts in SEL-SB model (Fig. 1), the study results revealed that sociocultural profile was a mediator which could mediate the relationship between law manifestation and behavior as well as economic pressure and behaviours. In other words, the mentioned two factors, law manifestation, and economic pressure, played a moderator role which could affect the behavours independently by themselves and also by moderating the socio-cultural profile.
This study had strengths and weaknesses that should be taken into consideration when interpreting the results. One of the strengths of the study was the strategies used to enhance the quality of qualitative research; validation, reliability, and generalizability were used for this purpose. In order to increase the validity of the study, bracketing was used as well as triangulation of the data source so that the data were collected using two methods of in-depth individual interviews and focus group discussion. In order to increase reliability, the triangulation of researchers was employed, with multidisciplinary experts working together on coding, continuous comparison of data and codes, and data analysis. To achieve the generalizability, the researchers used theory triangulation so that the results were validated and supported by various theories, which in turn added to the generalizability of the study.
One limitation of this study, which can be seen in other qualitative studies, was that the results were limited by study design and may not be generalizable to a larger group of taxi drivers. In order to minimize this limitation, the researchers attempted to recruit participants with a wide range of variety in age, work experience, and education.
Other limitations of this study included the fact that due to the long working hours of taxi drivers, as well as some of their tight schedules regarding services, etc., these participants could not be re-accessed to verify the resulting codes. In order to overcome this restriction, verification of codes and theoretical saturation carried out in a focus group of taxi drivers.