Road Safety News

‘Real behaviour’ road user study to be presented at National Conference

Tuesday 5th July 2016

An overview of UDRIVE, an important naturalistic driving study assessing the ‘real behaviour’ of road users, will be delivered to delegates at the 2016 National Road Safety Conference.

The presentation will be delivered by Ruth Welsh, senior research associate at Loughborough University, who is involved with the study which is described as the first of its kind.

Ruth Welsh’s presentation will form part of the ‘Road user psychology’ session which will also feature presentations by Dr Samantha Jamson and Elizabeth Box.

UDRIVE, a €10m collaborative study funded by the European Commission, will observe the various aspects of driver and rider behaviour including acceleration, lane position, speed, eye movements, traffic densities and road conditions.

The experiment involves monitoring cars, trucks and scooters for up to 21 months (until April 2017) to collect data whenever the vehicle is in motion; in daylight, darkness and all weather conditions.

The aim is to gain an ‘accurate and in-depth understanding of actual road user behaviour in a natural setting and analyse the relationship between driver/rider, vehicle, road and other traffic in a range of situations’.

Ruth Welsh’s presentation will outline the scope, aims, methods and expected impact of the project which will collect data from 266 drivers and riders of passenger cars, trucks and scooters. If available, early analysis results will also be presented.

Ruth has been undertaking research in the field of transport safety for 20 years, during which time she has lead projects on behalf of the DfT and the European Commission as well as commercial clients.

Her areas of particular interest include accident data analysis and data collected from driving studies in support of vehicle systems design and policy making.

Ruth’s recent work has contributed to new test design for Euro NCAP and the development of protocols for Field Operational Tests and Naturalistic Driving Studies in order to better understand driver behaviour under real world driving conditions.

2016 National Road Safety Conference
The 2016 National Road Safety Conference is being hosted by Road Safety GB South West Region in Bristol on 15-16 November and is co-sponsored by Colas, Jenoptik Traffic Solutions UK and Insure The Box. More than 200 people have already registered to attend the event and 16 companies will participate in the exhibition which runs alongside the conference.

The agenda includes sessions focusing on road user psychology, public health and road safety, and social marketing, social media and engagement.

Click here to register to attend the conference; click here for more information about exhibiting alongside the conference; or for more information contact Sally Bartrum (delegate registration and exhibition) or Nick Rawlings (speakers and agenda) on 01379 650112.



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I dont really care who takes on or quotes my Campaign. It's out there and can be adopted by anyone. Last year I put on this website on every occasion that I could in the hope that initially it would get to the most important persons in the industry - the road safety officers. This year I am spreading it more widely to many other road safety organisations including the likes of TISPOL as an example. The more that Authorities and interested parties are made aware of the simple measures that can embrace a safer journey for themselves and for others the better our roads will be. The reduction of KSIs as an example. The more one understands the principals of safe driving and thus stopping distances the more one will drive easier and safer. I know that it isn't a panacea for all motoring ills but for far too long its been forgotten and should be top of the list for principals of driving to keep one safe.

My hope is that within that survey they will be able to determine just what % of drivers are guilty of failing to give safe distrance and the correlation between that and collisions caused by such poor safety related behaviour.
R.Craven Blackpool

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I stand corrected, Hugh. Just testing!

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Wouldn't like to be seen to be quietly taking the credit for someone else's idea, but the sensible SPACE IS SAFE message is Mr Craven's.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Hugh's comment under the 'invention to discourage tailgating' thread that SPACE IS SAFE should also be a key element in this thread.

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Hugh Jones' comment,'A €10m study to observe driver and rider behaviour? Everything we need to know can be seen daily for free on our roads. However, whatever the results and conclusions - what then? Knowing what drivers and riders do on the roads is not the problem - taking steps to correct and remedy is.' is spot on.

The moral of the tale might be how to make mountains out of molehills. It's another case of academics getting in on the act and making something seem far more complicated than it is. If you want to change attitudes to make roads safer then find ways of having road users feel more vulnerable; when they feel vulnerable they take more care. The classic example was in Holland, (I think it was) where they apparently removed traffic lights at a junction and it actually reduced the accident rate; it simply increased the road users' sense of vulnerability and they took more care. So the real key is finding ways to have road users feel more vulnerable. Achieve that and the effects will be predictable - and a good part of 10m euros will be saved.

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A few years ago, I carried out a survey of motorcyclist regarding their experiences of near miss collisions. I was also involved in proposal for a naturalistic study of motorcyclists together with MIRA and Loughborough University. The point is that the purpose of any study is to find answers. Any result is always subject to interpretation and opinion. In the end we, as researchers try to find answers - that's all we can do. But every bit of information that can progress knowledge must be - worthwhile. No? My study of near miss collisions can be found here:
Elaine, France

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Hugh, perhaps the 'new measures', unlike the current ones, will play to the strengths of human nature - rather than flying in the face of it - and eliminate some of the failings of current measures which aggravate the aggression, impatience, ego and the other negative personality traits that some/many people have inbuilt into their makeup, and play to the strengths that all/most people have. Would you be all for that too?

To be honest, I feel impatient when I'm standing at the kerb waiting to cross a road and traffic (because the current measures give it de-facto priority on the road) just whizzes past me regardless, even though I got there before them. How can that be justified and why shouldn't I be able to cross anywhere, anytime, in turn, straight after the first cars has passed?

Where are the studies, reports and evidence that the current model is based on? I don't think there are any. I think the current system was introduced on a whim, a century or more ago, by someone who wanted (for whatever reason) to keep the most motor traffic moving as quickly as possible - regardless of the consequences to other road users. Sure, failed measure after failed measure has been piled on top of this unsound base over the last 100 years, but nothing has been done to tackle the root cause - the weak foundation.
Charles, England

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Matt - if the 'new measures' referred to can remove aggression, impatience, ego and other negative personality traits from those who are prone to it when behind the wheel, then I'm all for it - I still don't think it would take 21 months to identify such traits in the individuals concerned though.

I wholly agree that addressing drivers' 'motivation to drive differently' is fundamental - I just happen to think from my own experience that it is a lost cause with many.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Hugh, you point out what people do, but in order to change behaviour we need to understand how and why they do it. To put this into simple behaviour change terms: do we need to address their capability, opportunity or motivation to drive differently?

This study will help develop an "accurate and in-depth understanding of actual road user behaviour in a natural setting and analyse the relationship between driver/rider, vehicle, road and other traffic in a range of situations".

In terms of what is going to be done afterwards the original story referenced in the article above states "...the results will be used to identify new measures which could make the European traffic system safer and more sustainable."
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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It still begs the question Matt - what will happen once the study is completed? We already know that people speed, tailgate, are impatient, don't observe, don't anticipate, show-off, drive aggressively, drive nervously, are distracted, drink/drive etc. etc. These traits are present in some more than others - in some cases not at all - in others it's fairly consistent, but I don't think we need 21 months of data to show that. Do we know who the 266 subjects are i.e. do they have bad driving records and are therefore suitable for studying?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Hugh, what you see daily on the roads is your interpretation of a single snapshot in time of what each driver is doing. It looks like this study will look at 21 months worth of data to show whether that snapshot is typical for that driver or maybe a rare lapse on their part (everybody has them!) so we gain a much better understanding of the way people drive.

Naturalistic driving studies e.g. the 100 car study in the US have given us invaluable evidence relating to driver inattention and fatigue, and what happens in the lead up to "near-misses" (and crashes if they are present in the sample).

Sounds like a fantastic project and I'm looking forward to hearing more about it at the conference.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (12) | Disagree (2)

A €10m study to observe driver and rider behaviour? Everything we need to know can be seen daily for free on our roads. However, whatever the results and conclusions - what then? Knowing what drivers and riders do on the roads is not the problem - taking steps to correct and remedy is.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (14)