Whether you’re a driver, a pedestrian, or a cyclist, chances are you’ve had at least a few first-hand experiences with someone with an anger problem behind the wheel.
Aggressive driving, which includes deliberately driving unsafely in order to punish or get even with someone, is a major road hazard. A study from the AAA Foundation looking at more than 10,000 road rage incidents found that altercations between angry drivers resulted in at least 218 murders and another 12,610 injury cases over the course of seven years.
When asked what set off their anger, drivers in the study often cited trivial reasons for why they became violent: “She wouldn’t let me pass,” “They kept tailgating me,” or, as this driver accused of attempted murder explained, “He practically ran me off the road – what was I supposed to do?”
Is someone who screams…
For years, data on car accidents has consistently shown that drivers are most likely to crash at locations very near their homes. At first glance it might seem like this phenomenon occurs because people spend the most time driving close to home. However, a recent study suggests that it may actually due to the fact that drivers are less attentive and aware when they’re driving on familiar roads.
Studies have consistently shown that when we’re not actively paying attention we may fail to perceive things that are right before our eyes in a phenomena known as “inattention blindness.” When driving down a familiar street, we may be more likely to drive “on autopilot” without our full attention, increasing the odds that we miss important information, such as construction warnings or a new street sign.
To find out how much familiarity affects drivers,…
As we age, our capabilities behind the wheel change, and one of the greatest driving dangers for senior drivers appears to be traffic intersections. Older drivers are far more likely than other drivers to get into an accident at an intersection. According to data from the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, approximately 50% of accidents occur at intersections for drivers over age 50, compared to about 23% of accidents for people under age 50.
A team of researchers led by psychological scientist J. K. Caird of the University of Calgary studied people of varying ages to find out how the current standards for the timing of yellow lights might be impacting driving safety at intersections.
For traffic lights to operate safely, traffic engineers have to take the limitations of human perception into account. For example, traffic engineers typically account for 1 second from…
By now, we should all know that talking on a cell phone while driving is a bad idea. So far, 14 states have banned driving with a handheld phone, but researchers caution that hands-free phones may be just as dangerous and distracting.
In 2011 the National Transportation Safety Board called for an end to all cellphone use in the car saying, “there is no difference between hand-helds and hands-free.” New research from a team of psychological scientists from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada further confirms that even hands-free phone conversations can have a negative impact on driver performance.
In order to drive safely, we need to be able to accurately assess what’s going on around us in space and time—also known as situational awareness. Situational awareness allows drivers to organize the sights and sounds around them into a comprehensible mental representation that…
As cars become increasingly automated, researchers are looking at who’s the better driver: the human or the car.
Most cars and trucks now come equipped with cruise control–which allows a car to automatically maintain a constant speed without input from the driver–and many newer vehicles have advanced cruise control (ACC) systems that automatically adjust a car’s speed to maintain a safe distance from the car ahead.
A recent study from psychological scientists Mark Vollrath, Susanne Schleicher, and Christhard Gelau found that cruise control and ACC systems can have both positive and negative effects on driving safety.
Previous research has shown some benefits to using cruise control systems, but there may also be some increased risks. Several studies have found that drivers using cruise control systems are more likely to obey speed limits. However, a 2013 study from the University of Strasbourg found…