Prof Mike Regan: Driver distraction; Vehicle information/control systems should be rated for their distraction effects


Fifty years ago, one of the factors that was said to have led to NSW developing a world-renowned adaptive and coordinated traffic control system was that the engineers and technicians who worked on it had an understanding of human behaviour on the roads and that these skills may well have been missing in later reviews which failed to try and update the system.

Commentary on driver distraction is all the rage at the moment but do we understand the underlying behaviour or are we just blaming all those other people who we think cause the problem.

Michael (Mike) Regan is an Emeritus Professor of Human Factors with the University of NSW Research Centre for Integrated Transport Innovation (rCITI) at the University of NSW, Sydney.

Mike’s current research interests include driver distraction and inattention, driver interaction with automated vehicles, and human factors in road and traffic engineering

Subjects covered (with a start time in the audio in mm:ss)

  • Linking the “hard” and social sciences and his course called “Human Factors in Civil and Transport Engineering. (0:33)
  • Systems have to be designed from a human perspective (1:24)
  • Predictions of increased distraction nearly 30 years ago – have they come to fruition (2:42)
  • Camera analysis in cars – the situation that ultimately causes a crash can be seen building up (4:50)
  • Current problems with new car dials and infotainment controls (7:00)
  • Use of Voice recognition – it’s not so straightforward (8:54)
  • People who call up a driver do not know what the situations are that the driver is facing (10:44)
  • Sign positing and line marking – is there a good understanding of human factors? (12:42)
  • The need for expertise and independence in the public service (17:38)
  • Issues with pedestrians crossing the road (19:59)
  • The need for consistency with operational controls (41:43)
  • Airline industry communication in the cockpit has helped develop a program to help young people know how to act when a passenger (23:27)
  • Being blinded by technology (27:35)

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