The relative importance of a variety of human factor variables to driving performance was investigated using a representative sample of 60 drivers. Factors considered included: visual and perceptual abilities, risk taking, reaction time measures, biographical, attitudinal and personality variables and physiological measures of stress. Driving performance was assessed by obtaining accident and exposure histories for the previous 3 years and also by considering the number of driving errors committed on a test drive. In the analysis special attention was given to identifying any age differences revealed by the results that might help to explain why accident rates vary with age. Results indicated that the variable measuring risk taking was most highly correlated with driving performance. The driver's attitude to safety and measures of visual and perceptual abilities, such as acuity, risk assessment and hazard perception - measured both on the road and in a simulator - were also relatively important. Additional variables that were significantly correlated with driving performance included; age, socio-economic group number, annual kilometres driven, additional driver training, one personality factor and a physiological measure of stress. Several of the variables showed significant age effects. The findings are discussed and their importance to road safety is considered. (A)

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