Reaction timer available to all Scottish schools

12.00 | 8 August 2012 | | 3 comments

An educational resource that helps users of all ages better understand a driver’s reaction time, and how different factors affect concentration, is now available to all schools across Scotland.

The Road Safety Reaction Timer has been designed by Fifex in collaboration with the road safety team at Renfrewshire Council and the Scottish Schools Equipment Research Centre (SSERC).

Now, thanks to a partnership with Transport Scotland, every school and road safety team in Scotland has access to the company’s unique ‘plug ‘n’ play’ device, which aims to highlight reaction time, thinking distance and braking distance in a fun, interactive way.

Michael McDonnell, director of Road Safety Scotland, said: “The reaction timer is an excellent addition to existing road safety education resources in Scotland. Road Safety Scotland is delighted to be supporting the roll-out to local road safety teams, who are working with their schools to incorporate the reaction timer activities into lessons and making valuable links with the Curriculum for Excellence.”

After pressing a ‘start’ button, the intuitive desktop device calculates a random time at which to activate the ‘hazard’ – a flashing LED that then remains permanently on. The time taken for the user to hit the ‘stop’ button provides the person’s reaction time. Users then have the ability to explore the relationship between their reaction time and their thinking and braking distance against speed and road conditions. The device is also available with audible hazard and foot pedals, for added reality.

Craig Harvey, managing director of FifeX, said: “The device is innovative and has attracted a lot of attention from road safety teams throughout the UK.

“Anecdotal evidence shows users are gaining a more comprehensive understanding of road safety as a result of the device, which challenges people’s thinking in an interactive way. By introducing other things such as operating a mobile phone, radio or SatNav while still trying to use the device, we are able to highlight how concentration and reaction times alter dramatically.

“We’ve even taken the reaction timer out of schools and into pubs to highlight to adults the effect alcohol has on response time; it definitely got worse as the night wore on!”

For more information contact Craig Harvey on +44 (0) 1382 554405.


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    I don’t really see the point of reaction time testing, because quick reactions are only needed in an emergency. Drivers who have taken advanced driving courses know very well that if you have to jam on the brakes you (once again) got the observation and planning dramtically wrong. Driving on quick reations is really a fool’s paradise. Looking ahead and planning in good time is the essence of safe road behaviour. What is more important is developing the awareness of space and time. Strategies for keeping space around you, aka buffer zones, is a crucial element which gives time to respond to situations in good time. I recall a police driving instructor who used to ask his students. Can you [in any circumstances] stop the vehicle undramatically? It’s a key phrase which is a great aid to safety.

    Nigel Albright
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    Dare I suggest a more interesting, involving, effective and lower cost option – a model aircraft flight simulator that, through mass production costs only £100 or so, ready to run on any school computer?

    Learning to fly on screen on one or more of say 30+ models, at any one of typically 20 different airfields, based on real scenery and satellite images, would teach children more about reaction times and responses than any flashing LED box, and aerial combat would foster the new Olympic competitive spirit!

    Those who enjoy the simulator might well then take up flying real models, benefitting from fresh air and exercise, others might prefer the superb and low cost radio controlled model cars now widely available, surely a more effective way of learning about reaction times and vehicle responses – especially when racing!

    Google and will find what you need, at mass market prices.

    Idris Francis
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

    Sounds like a fun way to teach drivers their reaction times and give them a greater appreciation of same and its consequences. Hope that they are not to drunk in the pubs to appreciate it.

    Anything that works and brings a greater understanding of consequences should be encouraged.

    bob craven
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

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