Engineering measures have helped to reduce road accident injury and fatality rates dramatically. However, further gains may be achieved by understanding the way people behave and their underlying attitudes. TRL’s human factors team researches all types of road users, including motorcyclists, pedestrians, cyclists, children and disabled people.
Our experts use complex models to better understand what can be done to influence human behaviour in transport systems.
Human factors (also known as ergonomics) is about people, products, systems and environments and how they impact on each other. TRL has pioneered many of the world's transport-related human factors studies that have improved our transport system in everyday life from research into impairment from alcohol, recreational drugs and fatigue to the design and specification of the vehicles and systems we see on our roads and railways. Experts from TRL contribute to national and international panels on ergonomics and many of our researchers are world-recognised experts. TRL's research background, consultancy, staff and facilities have a truly outstanding reputation, unique and unrivalled in the transport sector.
The Human Factors team at TRL has carried out research into road user behaviour and performance, including distraction, impairment due to ageing, fatigue, medications or drugs, driver interaction with the road environment and in-vehicle system design. In addition, the team has been involved in studies of human error in the context of safety critical systems as well as physical ergonomics projects focussing on postural risk and task efficiency.
Our research into texting whilst driving, for example, utilised our driving simulator to measure the impact of writing, sending and reading a text message on driving performance. The effects of engaging in such behaviour were benchmarked against known driving impairments such as drunk and drug driving, demonstrating the extent to which texting whilst driving is distracting.
In addition, TRL's human factors specialists regularly make contributions to international standards and guidelines e.g., TRL provides expert representation to the main ISO group responsible for development and maintenance of human factors standards related to ITS in vehicle systems. TRL recognises that research on the Human Machine Interface (HMI) is becoming more and more important as vehicles and their systems become smarter. TRL experts also represent the UK on the eSafety Working Group on HMI who are tasked with further development of the European Statement of Principles on the design of IVIS.
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