Human factors. The term could certainly cover a lot of territory, but in reality, it’s an important set of information that impacts each of us every day.
You see, “human factors” is an area of research that strives to improve traffic safety by learning about drivers. Human factors research tackles safety-critical issues, such as distracted and impaired driving. It peers into our cognitive behaviors, learning what it can about how we think and react while driving.
The first step in the human factors research process is to identify safety problems. Researchers analyze crash data and conduct studies and surveys to pinpoint human elements that negatively impact traffic safety.
After an issue is identified, researchers determine ways to enhance safety by changing the design of vehicles and the environment. Tools used in this process include laboratory testing, as well as simulators.
Next, after effective design changes are identified, researchers evaluate them for potential implementation. This is the step in the process that uses tests in the field to see the effect of the new system on drivers. In other words, can the system be effective despite the tendencies of human drivers?
Ideally, the new technology is deployed, resulting in a decreased crash, injury, or fatality rate.
For example, human factors researchers are exploring the use of vehicle-based sensors to detect things like drowsiness, inattention, and impaired driving. As their research moves forward and promising systems emerge, the new or improved systems will be tested before they are implemented.
Human factors research is a very exciting area that is constantly changing to help reduce traffic accidents. It is this area that develops crash warning interfaces and feedback alerts. Researchers also consider issues such as the type of headlights and taillights that humans see best.