Home Home Home

The need and potential for human factors research in highway safety

In: Transportation Research Circular, No. 414, Sept. 1993, p. 2-5

Authors: Patricia F. Waller

Dr. Waller, in this keynote address, examines some of the transportation related areas where human factors research is needed. She points out that, if transportation is conceived as simply the safe and efficient movement of people and goods, it is easy to think simply in terms of knobs and dials and displays and how they can best be used by people very much like ourselves. If, on the other hand, we consider transportation as an essential and integral part of our total society, a dimension of our society that enables individuals to function and communities to work, then we need to take into consideration how the systems we are designing may be used by a wide variety of participants -- young, old, educated, not so educated, English-speaking and others, short, tall, fat, and thin, arthritic, distracted, motivated, disinterested, rich, poor, and so forth. She urges workshop participants to think beyond traditionally funded research as they consider human factors research needs in highway safety, and to focus completely on what they see as the real information needs, be they methodological, theoretical, basic information on decision making, cognition, learning, or whatever else. She asks them to "kindle new possibilities".