Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Cheryl B. McNeil.


There has been a paucity of research investigating the characteristics of college students following a motor vehicle crash (MVC), a relatively common event in the lives of college students (e.g., an annual incidence rate of 1.37 per 10,000 resulting from dozing and driving between years 1984 to 1999). Moreover, typical PTSD assessment relies almost exclusively on indirect measures (e.g., interview, self report, rating by others). The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) investigation of the characteristics of college students who had been involved in an MVC versus a control group, (b) development of a computer-administered analog assessment, the adult version of the MVC-Behavioral Avoidance Test (MVC-BAT-A), to assess MVC PTSD symptoms, and (c) examination of the psychometric properties of the MVC-BAT-A. The results of this study showed the group with High MVC PTSD symptoms had higher levels of general anxiety, fear of driving and riding in a car or other motor vehicle, and frequency and distress of non-MVC PTSD symptoms, as well as greater distress resulting from and experience of previous traumatic events. This group also rated higher levels of nervousness and lower levels of happiness after their exposure to the mild MVC-related stimuli. Low convergent validity was found between the MVC-BAT-A and other indirect measures. Total number of previous traumatic events, frequent experience of non-MVC PTSD symptoms, and lower levels of positive affect during the exposure to the mild trauma-related stimuli were risk factors for developing high MVC PTSD symptoms. Limitations, strengths, and further directions for this study are discussed.