Driving is a demanding task combining complex motor and cognitive skills. A typical driving task may include maneuvering among other vehicles, paying attention to various road users (e.g., drivers and pedestrians), and discerning static and dynamic road signs and obstacles). The total amount and rate of information presented to the driver is more than a human brain can handle at a given time. Thus, the road presents a vast array of accessible information, but drivers notice and attend only to a small fraction of it.
Recent evidence suggests that among all driving skills, only hazard awareness – the ability of drivers to read the road and identify hazardous situations –correlates with traffic crashes (e.g., Horswill and McKenna, 2004). Furthermore, McKenna et al. (2006) have shown that improving hazard awareness skills (via training to identify hazardous situations) resulted in a decrease in risk taking attitudes for novice drivers. These findings and others (e.g., Pradhan et al., 2009; Borowsky et al., 2010; Pollatsek et al., 2006; Deery, 1999) acknowledge that young-novice drivers might be less aware of potential hazards and risks embedded in a situation, and thus are more susceptible to taking risks while driving because of this lack of awareness.
Borowsky, A., Shinar, D., & Oron-Gilad, T. (2010). Age and skill differences in driving related hazard perception, Accident Analysis and Prevention, vol. 42, pp. 1240-1249.
Deery, H.A. (1999). Hazard and risk perception among young novice drivers. Journal of Safety Research, 30(4), 225-236.
Horswill, M. S., & McKenna, F. P. (2004). Drivers’ hazard perception ability: Situation awareness on the road. In S. Banbury and S. Tremblay (Eds.), A cognitive approach to situation awareness: Theory and application (pp. 155-175). Aldershot, United Kingdom: Ashgate.
McKenna, F. P., Horswill, M. S., & Alexander, J. L. (2006). Does anticipation training affect drivers’ risk taking? Journal of Experimental Psychology, 12, 1-10.
Pollatsek, A., Narayanaan, V., Pradhan, A., & Fisher, D. L. (2006). Using eye movements to evaluate a PC-based risk awareness and perception training program on a driving simulator. Human Factors, 48, 447–464.
Pradhan, A. K., Pollatsek, A., Knodler, M., & Fisher, D. L. (2009). Can younger drivers be trained to scan for information that will reduce their risk in roadway traffic scenarios that are hard to identify as hazardous? Ergonomics, 52, 657-673.