Document Type

Master's Culminating Experience

Publication Date



Background: Motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), a leading cause of mortality in the United States have an enormous impact on public health. Researchers contend that approximately 90% of all MVAs are, to some extent, a result of driver characteristics and behavior (Lewin, 1982). One of the least researched driver characteristics is psychiatric comorbidity, especially borderline personality disorder (BPD), a disorder that is characterized by impulsivity and emotional volatility.

Objective: The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between BPD and driving citations.

Method: Using two measures for BPD, we surveyed a consecutive sample of patients who were being seen at a primary care setting (N = 419) and examined self-reported histories of being charged with, not necessarily convicted of, 12 moving and 11 non-moving traffic violations as well as automobile/motorcycle accidents, driving while intoxicated, vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, and having ever had one’s driving privileges suspended or been refused a driver’s license in any state.

Results: There were statistically significant correlations between both measures of BPD and the number of moving violations, number of non-moving violations, driving while intoxicated, and ever having had driving privileges suspended. There were no between-group differences with regard to automobile or motorcycle accidents. No participant reported vehicular homicide, and too few endorsed leaving the scene of an accident or having been refused a driver’s license to warrant analyses.

Conclusions: Compared to those without BPD, individuals with BPD appear to be at a greater risk for reckless driving, particularly with regard to moving and non-moving violations, driving while intoxicated, and having one’s driving privileges suspended.