Driver Risk Awareness

Roads explain themselves to drivers in various ways. Sometimes however what they 'explain' is misleading so that drivers mistake the level of risk and drive accordingly. This programme is intended to examine the differences between objective and perceived risk and ways of reducing those differences.

Expert steering group

  • Associate Professor Samuel G Charlton - Waikato University
  • Mr Fergus Tate - New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Mr Colin Brodie - New Zealand Transport Agency
  • Dr Jared Thomas - Opus Central Laboratories
  • Simon Douglas - AA Research Foundation

Stage one - Literature review

A Literature Review by Dr Charlton examined past research and potential research directions.

Stage two - Driver risk awareness project

Waikato University Traffic and Road Safety Research Group and Beca have been commissioned independently to carry out seperate studies of driver risk awareness. The premise of this research is that drivers' risk assessment is flawed. Drivers' perceptions of risk do not match the actual risk as identified by the KiwiRAP (New Zealand road assessment programme). The research is an effort to understand which road risks New Zealand drivers do perceive and which risks they do not appear to notice.

The project was completed in November 2013. The reports are available here.

TARS Report

Beca Report

Stage three - Driver risk awareness and speed

Risk, Speed and Countermeasures on Rural New Zealand Roads is the continuation of our programme in this area.  The study, carried out by the University of Waikato, uses both on-road and simulator methodologies to examine whether, in the face of changes in perceived risks, drivers choose different speeds.  The study isolates the effect of various, existing countermeasures that are commonly found on New Zealand rural roads to test their effects on perceived risk and speed choice.

The results show that, by and large, when perceptions of risk are increased, drivers do choose lower speeds.  They also showed that simple centre line markings can influence drivers perceptions of speed – some more so than others.  It also shows that perceptions of risk changed according to traffic conditions – with the same markings having different impacts in high and low traffic conditions.

The presence of a Police car by the side of the road, with its lights flashing, gave a very interesting insight into the impact that Police presence has on perceptions of risk and speed.

Risk, Speed and Countermeasures on Rural New Zealand Roads - AARF, December 2015

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