Review of recent research in applied experimental psychology:Implications for countermeasure development in road safety

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #223 - 2004

Authors:  Lenné, M., Regan, M., Triggs, T., & Haworth, N.

Full report in .pdf format [400KB]


Much research that occurs within the field of traffic psychology leads to the development of effective road safety countermeasures. There may, however, be psychological research being undertaken in other domains, such as aviation or mining, that has the potential to both provide new directions for, and enhance the effectiveness of, current road safety countermeasures. The purpose of this report, therefore, was to review recent literature in the broad field of applied experimental psychology and distil from it, where appropriate, recommendations for countermeasure development. This work was completed in three stages. 

The first task involved a review of research from selected journals in the period 1998-2002. The research was sorted into logical headings. The general headings that emerged were: information processing and cognition; decision making; mental workload; and human error. The review included research relating to specific fitness for duty issues, such as the effects on driving performance of fatigue, alcohol and drugs. The major advances in the understanding of these latter issues are occurring within the road safety domain, and hence are included here. Summaries of the recent developments in each of these areas are presented in the Executive Summary. The immediate outcome of this review was the identification of theories, frameworks, models, and countermeasures that are used in domains other than road safety that may provide some insight into the development of new ideas to be used for road safety countermeasure development, including behavioural, engineering, and enforcement-based approaches. 

The second task involved consideration of the relevance of the research reviewed for refinement and development of road safety countermeasures. To achieve this, the literature review was distributed internally to a number of MUARC researchers, most of whom are highly experienced with a broad appreciation of road safety issues. They were invited to suggest possible countermeasures deriving from the material reviewed, and to document these under one or more of the following headings: education; training; promotion/advertising; traffic engineering; legislation; enforcement; licensing; vehicle design; and "other" countermeasures. Recommendations for further research were included within one or more of these categories. With the exception of the latter category, most countermeasures for injury prevention in the road safety domain fell under one or more of these headings. 

The third and final task involved collating the outputs from the above into a final set of recommendations for countermeasure development. Two important outcomes of this review were noted: confirmation that there are developments in behavioural research, not widely known in the road safety domain, which have the potential to lead to the development of new countermeasures; and the realisation that some of the information gleaned can be used to refine existing countermeasures. Briefly, some of the key findings relate to: developments in training techniques and methodologies that have potential to enhance the effectiveness of the driver training regime in Victoria; opportunities for the use of advanced simulation to support improved design and evaluation of vehicle cockpit interfaces and of traffic management systems; tools and techniques that are being developed to support and optimise the design of the human-vehicle interaction, in ways that reduce driver reduce workload and distraction; and the absence of predictive models of human behaviour and error causation in the road safety domain. Recommendations for countermeasure refinement and development are outlined in detail in the final chapter of this report.