Drivers' attitudes, perceptions and situation awareness in relation to driving and accident experience
AuthorsCavendish, Paul James
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AbstractRoad traffic accidents are among the biggest contributors to mortality rates and injury, especially young people, in developed countries. Research investigating how the human factor of driving has contributed to these accidents and early research focused on the skill of the driver as a contributory cause. Later studies have shown that it is not a lack of driving skill that causes accidents, per se, but that driving style may play a bigger role. However, the apparent relationship between driving skill, self-reported driving style and accident involvement is hampered by research not controlling for exposure and determining culpability for accidents. Similarly, research is by no means unequivocally differentiating drivers on the basis of their type of accident involvement. Therefore, the continued investigation of these factors should provide further evidence to help determine this relationship. In addition, the role of situation awareness (SA) in driving has been of interest in recent years, and poor SA caused by factors such as distraction and inattention has been shown to be a contributory factor in road traffic accidents. Current measures of SA are administered either during or after a specific, simulated task and as such are limited in their applicability. To this end, a 20 item driving specific questionnaire was developed to record drivers’ self-reported levels of situation awareness in a driving context which has provided an original contribution to the field of SA in driving research. Despite the number of traffic accidents recorded each year, they are still, on a per driver basis, rare events and as such determining the effects of skill vs. style and SA factors can be a challenge. Near-misses (also referred to as near-accidents and close calls) have also been used in place of recorded accidents and as the frequency of near-misses while driving is much higher than actual accidents, should act as a useful proxy variable in place of them. The aim of Study One was to methodically determine culpability in drivers and investigate which factors best distinguish these culpable accident and near miss involved drivers from the non-culpable and non-involved drivers, once demographic and experience variables had been controlled for. Drivers were surveyed using online survey software and self-reported accident and near miss culpability was investigated using attribution theory. The results included an Exploratory factor Analysis (EFA) of the Driver Situation Awareness (DSA) questionnaire which identified four factors that distinguished drivers on the basis of their accident and near miss involvement. Culpable drivers were lower in self-reported attention, concentration and vigilance. Culpable drivers also reported worse driving styles and attitudes that favoured riskier driving behaviours, and were also high in extraversion. Study two was a follow up study which surveyed a sub set of drivers from Study one and the same factors of interest were investigated. The aims of Study Two were to investigate differences over time in the factors previously investigated in a subset of drivers from Study One, and to explore the accident and near miss history of the same drivers to see if the differences seen between these groups still existed on those same factors. The results revealed that those differences seen in Study One were not apparent in Study Two, most likely due to a much smaller sample size masking any significant effects. The primary aim of Study Three was to explore differences between accident involved drivers from Study Two on different types of hazard and their precursors on a driving simulator and recording eye movements. This was a replication and extension of the methodology of Crundall et al. (2012). The second aim investigated whether there were any differences between drivers on different types of hazard precursor when having previously been exposed to an active hazard of the same type. The third aim involved further validating the DSA on both objective and online measures of situation awareness, and to explore the contribution of the DSA in distinguishing drivers based on their accident involvement. While the results showed no differences between the driver groups on fixating the different types of hazard overall, non-accident involved drivers fixated on more behavioural predictor precursors than culpable drivers. Culpable drivers also fixated less on precursors following an active hazard of the same type. Finally, higher levels of attention and vigilance as measured by the DSA were related to fewer fixations on Dividing and Focusing precursors and faster fixations on Behavioural Predictor precursors. The results from these studies are discussed in light of current models of driving behaviour.
CitationCavendish, P.J. (2019) 'Drivers' attitudes, perceptions and situation awareness in relation to driving and accident experience'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
Description"A thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy"
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