Reliability of drivers in urban intersections

The concept of human reliability has been widely used in industrial settings by human factors experts to optimise the person-task fit. Reliability is estimated by the probability that a task will successfully be completed by personnel in a given stage of system operation. Human Reliability Analysis (HRA) is a technique used to calculate human error probabilities as the ratio of errors committed to the number of opportunities for that error. To transfer this notion to the measurement of car driver reliability the following components are necessary: a taxonomy of driving tasks, a definition of correct behaviour in each of these tasks, a list of errors as deviations from the correct actions and an adequate observation method to register errors and opportunities for these errors. Use of the SAFE-task analysis procedure recently made it possible to derive driver errors directly from the normative analysis of behavioural requirements. Driver reliability estimates could be used to compare groups of tasks (e.g. different types of intersections with their respective regulations) as well as groups of drivers' or individual drivers' aptitudes. This approach was tested in a field study with 62 drivers of different age groups. The subjects drove an instrumented car and had to complete an urban test route, the main features of which were 18 intersections representing six different driving tasks. The subjects were accompanied by two trained observers who recorded driver errors using standardized observation sheets. Results indicate that error indices often vary between both the age group of drivers and the type of driving task. The highest error indices occurred in the non-signalised intersection tasks and the roundabout. The order shown exactly equals the corresponding ratings of task complexity from the SAFE analysis. A comparison of age groups clearly shows the disadvantage of older drivers, whose error indices in nearly all tasks are significantly higher than those of the other groups. The vast majority of these errors could be explained by high task load in the intersections, as they represent difficult tasks. The discussion shows how reliability estimates can be used in a constructive way to propose changes in car design, intersection layout and regulation as well as driver training.

Aus: Gstalter, H. & Fastenmeier, W. (2010). Reliability of drivers in urban intersections. Accident Analysis & Prevention, 42, 225-234..

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