Could increasing hazards increase safety?

16.03 | 5 January 2011 |

Newcastle University researchers have suggested increasing road hazards as a method to battle bored drivers who seek excitement by taking risks (The Telegraph).

The researchers found that 31% of drivers were easily bored and therefore more likely to seek excitement by taking driving risks, such as speeding or overtaking, as they did not find the highways taxing enough.

The researchers said building in more obstacles – for example removing kerbs so cars are more exposed to pavement hazards – might be the answer.

Lead researcher Dr Joan Harvey said: ”Contrary to what you might expect when driving, hazards can actually increase our attention to the road so this may well be the way forward for planners.

”In towns we may need to start considering some radical schemes such as removing kerbs so there are more hazards – like pedestrians – around your car. Our research suggests that this might actually improve people’s driving.”

Of the 1,563 drivers questioned, the 31% who got bored and sought thrills on the road included women and younger drivers. 35% of those surveyed were described as ‘enthusiastic’ and found driving challenging or interesting – and as such were less likely to have crashes.

Edmund King, AA president and also visiting professor of transport at Newcastle University, said: ”As cars come fitted with more gadgets to make driving easier, and planners remove more of the distractions, it comes as no surprise to me that some people are finding the pleasure of driving has become a bore.

”With that comes an increase in the risks drivers take as they mentally switch-off instead of focusing on the road. Drivers need to stay alert at all times.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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