Are you on auto-pilot? The dangers of complacent driving
IMAGINE if a give way or stop sign suddenly appeared in a spot where you previously had right of way when driving your regular route to work or to the school drop-off point.
Would you notice?
Research has shown most drivers would not.
A study from the Netherlands has shown the more familiar a driver is with a route, the less attention they pay to road signs.
In the study, drivers were taken on the same route 23 times. For the 24th drive, a give way or stop sign and relevant road markings were used at an intersection where the drivers previously had right of way.
Ten out of 12 drivers did not notice anything.
One driver said, "Oh my God, I think I did the wrong thing". Another said they thought something had changed but were not sure what it was.
Researcher Marieke Martens helped conduct the study and presented her findings at the International Conference on Traffic Transport Psychology, which was held in Brisbane earlier this month.
More than 300 psych
ologists, researchers and safety experts from across the world shared their knowledge and experience about road safety and psychology.
Professor Narelle Haworth, from the Queensland University of Technology Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, said psychology fundamentally underpinned drivers' behaviour - one of the important blocks that made up road safety.
The conference also explored what drivers thought about while behind the wheel.
One study showed drivers thought about non-driving-related subjects more than half of the time they were behind the wheel.
Researchers from New Zealand's University of Waikato conducted a study of 77 people driving on a 14km route in Waikato.
Researcher Nicola Starkey said more than half of the time, people reported that during the drive they were thinking about things that had nothing to do with driving.
And when it was driving-related, people were mostly thinking about other vehicles, traffic control and road-related issues.
Ms Starkey said the study also showed the more familiar a route was to a driver, the fewer things they noticed.
However, Ms Starkey said even though the drivers were not thinking about the drive more than half of the time, everyone completed it safely.
At the end of the drive, the drivers were asked what they remembered. Other cars topped the list, along with people and traffic control.
"One interesting thing to note ... is the fact that people remembered the abysmal driving of other drivers," Ms Starkey said.
"Basically there is no reflection on their own driving - it's all about how other people are driving."
This included responses such as "the car that pulled out in front of me" and how other people couldnot merge, signal and did not know how to use roundabouts.
- ARM NEWSDESK