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Applying risk communication strategies to reduce speeding-related risks

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Speedingrisk (Applying risk communication strategies to reduce speeding-related risks)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2019-08-31

Summary description of the project objectives
The equivalent of a medium-sized town is killed yearly in the EU, costing society approximately 130 billion Euro. One crucial goal for traffic safety is to reduce speeding on our roads as speed affects both the likelihood and severity of accidents. Even with ‘driverless’ intelligent car systems, in which the, drivers still input their speeding intentions. Hence, safety in traditional and intelligent car systems is improved by dashboard tools follow psychological principles of human-factor engineering and fit with drivers’ intuitive judgments. Dr Eriksson used her expertise in driver behavior and the psychology of human factors engineering to better understand and improve drivers’ misjudgments of speeding risks, so as to inform dashboard and communication tools that promote safer driving.

The overall goal of the project was an improved understanding of drivers’ perceptions of risks and benefits with speeding in the UK and Sweden and design interventions to address misunderstandings of risks and benefits. To achieve this goal, the Dr Eriksson and her collaborators at Leeds University Business School pursued three objectives:

Objective 1: Identify the processes underlying drivers’ (mis)understandings of the risks and benefits of speeding
Objective 2: Examine the prevalence of misunderstandings and their relationship to inclinations to speed
Objective 3: Designing and testing tools to address driver misunderstandings and intentions to speed
For Objective 1, Dr Eriksson conducted semi-structured mental models’ interviews with 34 UK drivers and 20 Swedish drivers. Drivers answered open-ended questions about causes of accidents, when they speed and why, and when they do not speed and why. Interview responses were summarized, categorized, and key themes were included as questions in the confirmatory survey questionnaire (see Objective 2).
For Objective 2, Dr Eriksson developed an online survey based on the interview data (collected for Objective 1), to investigate the prevalence of misunderstandings of accidents risks and which reasons for speeding and avoid speeding were most common. Data analysis drivers’ identified risks and their importance in causing accidents and national accident statistics data. There was an English version of the survey, as well as a Swedish translation. 183 UK and 183 Swedish drivers answered the survey.
For Objective 3, Dr Eriksson designed two online surveys to investigate drivers’ travel time judgments and test an intervention. The intervention was a dashboard tool with information about speed and pace data. In the first survey, 142 UK drivers and 100 Swedish drivers participated. The data analysis compared performance on travel time tasks between the intervention and a control group. Performance was measured both as accuracy and time to decision. The time analysis was used to set time limits to induce time pressure in the second survey. 382 UK drivers and 201 Swedish drivers participated in the second survey. An intervention and control group were randomly assigned to a time pressure and time delay condition. Data analysis included comparisons of how well participants performed under time pressure and with a time delay.
*The research conducted for Objective 1 found that interviewees did identify speeding as a risk factor, but seemed to have some misconceptions of what speeding actually means. Law enforcement was the most identified reason against speeding and it is therefore important that drivers understand that exceeding the speed limit even by a few units is illegal.
* The follow up survey conducted for Objective 2 confirmed that being a hurry is a common reason to speed. Previous research has suggested that drivers overestimate the time saved when increasing speed from a high speed (Eriksson et al. 2013, 2015). Thus, our findings suggest that future interventions need to focus on communicating the importance of speed limits for reducing accident risks, as well as on debiasing time saving judgements, so that drivers realize how little time they actually save by increasing speed.
*For Objective 3, we focused on an intervention that informs drivers about travel time and speed, seen in Figure 1 below. The results showed that the intervention is promising in aiding drivers to make more accurate judgements about time and speed.
* Project research findings were presented to researchers, policy makers and the car manufacture industry.

The socio-economic impact and wider societal impact of the research includes:
(i) First, the research identifies accident risk perceptions and motivations for speeding that can be used to develop driving-related communications. Dr Eriksson is preparing a series of publication to inform the academic community and stakeholders in traffic safety about the potential of the research.

(ii) Second, the intervention has proven to help drivers make time travel judgments. The intervention shows potential as a speed reduction measure and can be implemented in new in-car information technologies. The automobile industry has been informed about the intervention and a car manufacturer has developed a patent for a dashboard tool indicating time savings. A more accurate understanding of speed and time saved can reduce speed on our roads and ultimately save lives.

(iii) The intervention developed demonstrates an approach that can be used to reduce other driving-related misunderstandings about for example fuel efficiency. Findings will be presented at a symposium with leading researchers and future potential interventions will be discussed.
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