Presenter will discuss ‘human factors’

12.00 | 11 July 2012 | | 3 comments

Delegates attending The National Road Safety Conference 2012 will be provided with an insight into ‘human factors’ and their role in road crashes.

The conference is being hosted by Road Safety GB London Region at the Britannia International Hotel, Canary Wharf, 14-15 November. The event is co-sponsored by Colas, RedSpeed International, Alcolock UK and AA DriveTech.

Dr Martin Langham, managing director of User Perspective, will discuss ‘human factors’, the study of how humans deal with the complex built environment. This discipline, which spans engineering and psychology, has been around for 70 years and the main lesson learnt to date is that humans have considerable mental and physiological limitations.

Dr Langham will explain that evidence shows that 95% of crashes are caused by human error – but that road safety officers are generally not trained in psychology or human engineering. His presentation is designed to equip a road safety officer with the ability to look at a site of multiple accidents and understand what can be done effectively and within budget to prevent incidents – “without resorting to posters, leaflets or banners!”.

Dr Langham’s company, User Perspective, provides human factors research and development services to UK and overseas Governments, major transport providers, and industry regulators. The company provides forensic investigation services to almost all UK police forces, major legal firms, and the royal coroner, as well as providing behavioural research and investigation services to HM Government and the Ministry of Defence.

The cost of attending the two-day conference starts at £85 per day for day delegates and £295 for residential delegates.

 Dr Langham is one of a wide-ranging array of speakers already confirmed to present at the conference. Click here for details of other confirmed speakers, or click here for more general information about The National Road Safety Conference 2012.


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    It never ceases to amaze me how basically simple subjects become complex particularly in the massive escalation of the road safety industry in the aftermath of the Zebrugge disaster. A leading academic on driver behaviour was invited to contribute to the mental aspects in the 2007 Roadcraft. That contribution was thrown out in favour of the very sound work done by Dr Gordon Sharp in conjunction with the Scottish Police Driving School at Tullialan Castle. The ‘human aspects’ are essentially very simple. The primary research vehicle, the Mark 1 eyeball, in conjunction with a modicum of common sense will tell you that most people have not got their brain fully engaged and that their threat perception is low. It’s an immediate indication of their vulnerability to crashes. Most people do drive like the next crash waiting to happen and most have done no more than the Standard Driving Test, which is a basic level of competence for driving on the roads – and most, if spot tested today, would fail it.

    Nigel Albright
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    Many local authority road safety teams have been using this approach for some years – but without necessarily advertising the fact. For example, in North Yorkshire we have applied human factors principles to all of our major campaigns and other work, particularly with road users such as motorcyclists and cyclists. We work with engineering colleagues taking a joint problem solving approach to routes and places where existing or emerging problems are identified and where we look at the problem from the road user’s perspective e.g. bikers or cyclists. It is also at the core of our work with planners at the design stage of proposed major developments – by applying human factors knowledge and practice from the start of a proposal, many of the issues found elsewhere can be designed out before they are built. This gives people the choices we all want – by putting in well designed walking, cycling and vehicle access routes that we ourselves would be happy to use. Martin Langham has been a great help and supporter of this approach.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
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    Personally I welcome this apparent new approach, though understanding of the human mind has been with us for a number of years it’s only now that it’s being directed at this subject. For so long we have been primarily interested in mechanics and a reactive attitude to safety and this has in my mind possibilities.

    I would like their expertise to be focused on motorcycle accidents, perhaps we can change the attitude of some otherwise lost to us by their bad attitude.

    I await what follows with anticipation.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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