A comparison of hazard perception and responding in car drivers and motorcyclists
Haworth, Narelle L. & Mulvihill, Christine (2006) A comparison of hazard perception and responding in car drivers and motorcyclists. In 2006 International Motorcycle Safety Conference: The Human Element, 28-30 March 2006, Long Beach, California.
Poor hazard perception skills have been shown to contribute to novice driver crash involvement. Yet driving and riding differ in terms of hazards, responses and consequences and many novice motorcyclists are experienced drivers. Therefore the extent to which the findings of research into car driver hazard perception and responding are relevant to motorcyclists may be limited.
This paper presents results from the first stage of a program of research to develop hazard perception training for motorcyclists. The research began by examining the different theoretical frameworks that have been applied to hazard perception by car drivers. The four-component model of responding to risk (Grayson, Maycock, Groeger, Hammond & Field, 2003) was considered to be the most useful because it includes a response implementation phase, which appears to be more important in motorcycling than in car driving.
Analyses of motorcycle crash data from Victoria, Australia were undertaken in an attempt to identify those hazards and situations that pose a crash risk for motorcyclists of different levels of experience. However, road-based hazards were rarely recorded and the differences in crash situations appeared to largely reflect patterns of riding, rather than intrinsic risk.
The literature review identified very little research into hazard perception and responding by motorcycle riders. For car drivers, research has shown that experienced drivers are quicker to detect hazards and that slower responses to hazards are associated with higher self-reported crash involvement – but this has not been tested for motorcycle riders.
While research has shown that hazard perception training in novice drivers leads to improved performance on hazard perception tests, it is not yet known whether these drivers go on to be safer drivers and have fewer accidents. Training in how to respond appropriately may be more critical for riders than for drivers because failures in responding may result in a failure to avoid the initial hazard or a different type of crash.
Most available hazard perception tests do not measure whether the correct response is chosen or implemented – the focus is on the detection of the hazard only. In addition, the tests may not give sufficient emphasis to hazards specific to riding, particularly road surface hazards. This may limit the extent to which such tests are able to predict the crash risk for riders. The methods needed to examine responding by riders may require a higher level of physical fidelity than those required for drivers because riding requires more complex vehicle control skills than driving.
These issues question the relevance of the results of car driver hazard perception research for novice motorcyclists and have led to our current research to assess the fundamental differences in hazard perception and responding between drivers and riders and between experienced and inexperienced riders.
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