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Testing models of driver behaviour

08 October 2012

PhD ceremony: Mr. B. Lewis Evans, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Dissertation: Testing models of driver behaviour

Promotor(s): prof. K.A. Brookhuis

Faculty: Behavioural and Social Sciences

Everyone has an opinion on why drivers behave the way they do and even within Traffic Psychology, a field aimed at addressing this issue, the models and theories that seek to explain this issue are widespread, diverse, and often contradictory. Often these models only appear once in the literature and even those that are more established have not been well empirically tested. My PhD Thesis is an attempt to begin to rectify this by testing the core assumptions of several of the leading models of driver behaviour. Specifically constant monitoring theories such as Task Difficulty Homeostasis Theory, Risk Allostasis Theory, and the Risk Monitor Model were compared against threshold reaction theories such as Zero-Risk Theory and the Multiple Comfort Zone Model were examined.

The results of my thesis challenge the idea that drivers are purposeful risk takers and constant risk assessors. Rather drivers appear to be creatures of habit, often driving in a relatively automatic fashion, including sometimes unknowingly breaking road rules and perhaps even being influenced by emotions they do not even know they are having. In short, it appears that learning to drive is learning not to fear and that to paraphrase Wagenaar (1992) people run risks, but they do not often take nor feel them. Ultimately, that drivers are not always, or even often, deliberate risk takers challenges often predominant culture of blame in traffic safety circles and invites a move to a more systematic and complex system approach to road safety issues.

See also the press release 'Hidden images can affect your driving speed'

Last modified:06 September 2021 11.46 a.m.
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