Can Hazard Perception e-Training improve Fleet Driver Safety?
One of the main contributors to road traffic crashes is poor hazard detection and anticipation. Whilst fleet drivers may have acquired years of driving experience they may have never received any training to improve their hazard perception skills since passing their driving test. Perhaps one of the reasons why fleet drivers have an increased risk of being involved in a crash is because despite accumulating a lot of driving experience they receive little feedback when they have failed to notice a hazard – unless a crash occurs. As the traffic environment is relatively forgiving, fleet drivers may never even realize how often they are at risk when driving for work. Other road users often compensate for our mistakes, errors and violations. At DriverMetrics® we often find that experienced drivers are surprised at being unable to score top marks in our hazard perception e-training.
It is clear that fleet drivers need to develop accurate expectations about how a hazard may unfold and where to look to reduce the risk of being involved in a road traffic crash. Recent research suggests that hazard perception skills are likely to be under-developed even amongst experienced drivers and that even a small amount of hazard perception training leads to significant increases in skill (e.g. Horswill et al, 2013). Most drivers believe they are more highly skilled than the average driver and believe there is little chance of being involved in a crash (Dogan et al, 2012). Neither of these beliefs is true as company car drivers have an increased risk of crash involvement and clearly show significant improvements in detecting and responding to hazards after online hazard perception training across several studies.
DriverMetrics® Hazard Perception Training
In March 2013, DriverMetrics® incorporated online hazard perception training into its portfolio of interventions for fleet drivers to improve hazard perception skills when driving for work. DriverMetrics® e-training has been validated and found to influence driver behaviour across a number of studies (Isler, et al, 2008; af Wåhlberg, 2010; Dorn, 2011; 2012). Our e-training depicts the kinds of scenarios that drivers may overlook or perceive too late to take avoiding action. It focuses on developing visual search strategies, mirror checking and anticipating events emerging from the periphery – especially when there are competing visual demands in dynamic traffic situations.
Overtaking vehicles, pedestrians stepping into the road and vehicles following closely behind are some examples of everyday driving events that could lead to a crash but that occur outside the forward view and require mirror inspection to anticipate what might happen. To be representative of the mental load required in real driving, scanning and processing visual information from all views is essential so our e-training includes forward, rear and side mirror views developed with the use of four cameras installed in a car.
Naturally occurring traffic events on different road types and under different weather conditions and light levels have been filmed. Training clips are then selected based on whether the driver needs to take some form of evasive action such as braking or steering manoeuvres. The training clips address blind spots, use of mirrors and scanning to anticipate potential danger such as information about speed limits and road signs, separation distance, giving way, responding to and understanding traffic signals and signs.
The four views are then synchronized and a fully functioning dashboard is also displayed with a working speedometer, indicators, RPM and fuel gauge (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Synchronizing all four views on to a single screen
Online Feedback Improves Hazard Perception Skills
Fleet drivers are required to respond to fifteen training clips from a bank of hundreds of clips. After watching each training clip for a minute or so, the action stops. A question is then presented in which three or four possible answers are provided (see Figure 2). Ability to answer the question correctly is dependent upon whether the participants scanned the road environment and the mirrors for potential hazards before the action stopped.
Figure 2: An example of questions asked when the training clip stops
Fleet drivers then click on the answer they believe to be correct and feedback on their response is provided instantly on screen. For training purposes, even if a correct answer is given, feedback explaining why it was correct is provided (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: An example of feedback for a correct response
Figure 4: An example of feedback for an incorrect response
If the answer provided is wrong, feedback gives drivers a clue about what to look out for and the training clip is presented again so that the driver can understand what the correct answer should have been. A score is automatically tallied after each sequence and displayed at the bottom of the screen as completed green ‘dots’ (see Figure 3 and 4) with a red dot indicating an incorrect response.
The final score is converted into a percentage and is stored in our Management Information System database so that fleet managers can see at a glance how their drivers have scored. Those scoring below average might be invited to complete the module again with different clips or be required to undertake some other form of training as determined by the fleet manager. The main advantage of online hazard perception training is that it is effective in developing hazard perception skills and it is much cheaper than in-car training.
Dogan, E., Steg, L., Delhomme, P., & Rothengatter, T., 2012. The effects of non-evaluative feedback on drivers’ self-evaluation and performance. Accident Analysis and Prevention 45, 522–528.
Dorn, L. (2011). Pre-license education and hazard perception training. Fit to Drive 5th International Traffic Expert Congress proceedings, pp 27-31, 7-8th April, The Hague, The Netherlands.
Dorn, L. (2012). Young military learner drivers: The benefit of e-training on driving test performance. The International Association of Applied Psychologists 5th International Conference on Traffic and Transport Psychology, 29-31st August, Groningen, The Netherlands.
Horswill, M. (2013). Even highly experienced drivers benefit from a brief hazard perception training intervention. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 52, 100-110.
Isler, R. B. & Starkey, N. J. (2009). Video-based road commentary improves hazard perception of young drivers in a dual task. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 41(3), 445-452.
af Wåhlberg, A. E. (2011) Re-education of young driving offenders: Effects on recorded offences and self-reported collisions. Transportation Research Part F, 14, 291-299.