Truck Driver Behaviour and Perceptions Study

Monash University Accident Research Centre Report #18 - 1991

Authors: N. Haworth, P. Vulcan, M. Schulze & B. Foddy

Full report in .pdf format [4.3MB]

Abstract:

This report describes the development, administration and results of a questionnaire study of drivers of articulated vehicles. The study had three aims

  • to collect information about driving behaviours and safety-related attitudes
  • to compare the behaviours and attitudes of drivers who had been involved in injury crashes with those who had not been involved to identify problem areas warranting review
  • to provide information about how to effectively communicate with target groups.

Crash-involved drivers had poor coping behaviours in relation to driver fatigue but rated their ability in this area highly, had less often received training and were less likely to check their truck daily. Behaviours and attitudes related to speed judgement, behaviour of other road users, drug taking and alcohol were similar for the two groups.

In regard to communication with drivers, the study recommended that the use of intermediary organisations to disse4ninate information from VIC ROADS to drivers. Acknowledging the skills of drivers and appealing to their professionalism may also be a successful technique.

Drivers wanted to be better at keeping calm when held up on the road and felt that car drivers should be trained not to cut in on them and that an endorsed licence should be required for towing a caravan.

Executive Summary

This report describes the development, administration and results of a questionnaire study of drivers of articulated vehicles. The study had three aims

1. to collect information about driving behaviours and safety-related attitudes

2. to compare the behaviours and attitudes of drivers who had been involved in injury crashes with those who had not been involved to identify problem areas warranting review

3. to provide information about how to effectively communicate with target groups.

The behaviours and attitudes studied were related to

  • Vehicle characteristics
  • Training
  • Speed judgement
  • Hours of driving
  • Driving stresses and coping strategies
  • Drug taking
  • Alcohol
  • Health
  • Financial position

The main findings of the questionnaire study were:

  • crash-involved drivers had poor coping behaviours in relation to driver fatigue but rated their ability in this area highly
  • training was less common among crash-involved drivers
  • crash-involved drivers were less likely to check their truck each day for defects
  • behaviours and attitudes relating to speed judgement, behaviour of other road users, drug taking and use of alcohol were similar for crash- and non-crash-involved drivers
  • although estimated stopping distances were nearer the ideal than in-service measurements, drivers appreciated the non-linear relationship between speed and stopping distance
  • about a quarter of the drivers took pills to stay awake
  • about 40% of drivers drank after work several days per week and nearly half of the drivers drank more than five standard drinks per session
  • sleep apnoea appears no more prevalent in semitrailer drivers than in control populations but may be higher in drivers who have had single vehicle crashes

In regard to communication with drivers and proposals for training, the study concluded:

  • ill-feeling towards some of the operations of VIC ROADS means that information relating to sensitive areas may only be successfully collected from truck drivers by independent organisations or intermediaries
  • drivers perceive themselves as skilled professionals with only a minority of "cowboys". Acknowledgment of their skills and appealing to their professionalism may be a successful technique in communicating with drivers
  • drivers most often wanted to be better at keeping calm when held up on the road, despite not nominating this as one of the most important abilities
  • drivers felt that training car drivers not to cut in on trucks and requiring endorsed licences for towing caravans were training programmes necessary for other road users.

Sponsor: VicRoads