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Massachusetts Researchers Study Hazard Anticipation in Younger Drivers

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, have created and tested a computer-based training program that would improve hazard anticipation in younger drivers. Inexperienced motorists are more likely to be involved a car accident compared to other groups, and the researchers determined in previous research that this propensity is due to a failure to scan areas of the road for potential hazards.

The researchers then developed a PC-based training program called Risk Awareness and Perception Training (RAPT), which included nine driving scenarios with the potential for an accident involving another vehicle or a pedestrian. Twelve of the drivers (ages 18-21) who participated in the study underwent RAPT, and the other twelve did not.

All of the drivers then drove a vehicle 16 miles, and the researchers measured the eye movements of each participant. Based on the data they gathered, the researchers determined that trained drivers were more likely to look at areas of the road that contained information relevant to the reduction of risks. Even in situations that were markedly different from those shown in training, the drivers still exhibited training effects.

These findings were published in a paper called “Can Younger Drivers Be Trained to Scan for Information that Will Reduce Their Risk in Roadway Traffic Scenarios That Are Hard to Identify as Hazardous?” which appeared in the June 2009 issue of Ergonomics. They also received the 2010 Liberty Mutual Award.

Source: Younger Drivers May Benefit From Training that Targets Hazard Anticipation, EHSToday.com, May 14, 2010
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