Head of Transport Psychology, Transport Research Laboratory
Distraction and road safety: the challenges for training and education
Dr Shaun Helman is a cognitive psychologist who has been involved in researching road safety and driver behaviour for the last 15 years. He is particularly interested in the links between driver behaviour and safety outcomes such as collisions and injuries, and in high-risk groups such as young and novice drivers, those driving for work, and motorcyclists.
Distraction is a word used often in road safety, with little consideration for the precise concept it is meaning to convey. Typically it is used to describe the state in which a person is using the road (e.g. driving, walking, riding) while simultaneously engaged with another task (e.g. talking on a phone, attending to technology inside or outside their vehicle).
In this presentation, the concept of distraction (and the related concept of inattention) will be defined from a psychological perspective, and a number of key findings about its effects on road safety outcomes will be examined.
The call for training and education to address safety-related road user distraction and inattention is likely to become more widespread with the introduction of new technologies. The challenges to those developing and providing such training and education are numerous, and the presentation will consider how training and education should be positioned if it is expected to reduce distraction-related injuries on the roads in the future.